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Each of us needs to be a story teller when we describe the Mohawk Towpath Byway or one of the features on the Byway. We need to convey authenticity, provide a personal perspective, inject a bit of humor, if appropriate and entertain.

We have several who live within the Byway corridor who are really good at this: Russ Van Dervoort, John Scherer and Stephanie Bandosik come to mind.

With all the focus recently on birding on the Byway, I have a great deal of reverence for John James Audubon (1785 to 1851). The subject of ornithology came up recently at a Byway event and John Scherer said, “Audubon. Wasn’t he the guy that went around a couple of centuries ago shooting birds and then painting dead birds?” The comment put the life and times in perspective leaving a memorable impression on those listening.

Hamilton has been all the rage on the Byway with the production of the musical at Proctors Theater at the western end and Cherry Hill the Albany residence of Alexander Hamilton for a couple of years. My family is not of the “Virginia Hamilton” clan, but I can share the views of freedom for all. I remember Russ Van Dervoort making the comment, “Didn’t Alexander Hamilton own slaves?”

The story of the Peace Maker and the Cohoes Falls is a fascinating one. If you ask a Native American Elder who knows the story he would say quite reverently that you are not ready to hear the story …leaving me to feel that I am not worthy. Stephanie Bandosik with reverence will put your mind at ease and in a relaxing, soothing way convey the story, but it may take longer than you wish to devote to the story.

In addition to all the other demands of a good story teller, we must be a good raconteur.

The dictionary says raconteur, (rä,kän’tar), is a person who tells anecdotes in a skillful and amusing way. The word comes from early 19th century from the French “raconter” meaning to relate or recount. I realize that I have been pronouncing the word, or at least the last syllable incorrectly by making it sound like “tour”.

Try your hand at story-telling and see if you can bring your audience back for more! Be a bit of a raconteur.