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HomeNewsArchivesRenowned Storyteller's Absence Felt Sunday Evening

Renowned Storyteller's Absence Felt Sunday Evening

West End Masqueraders were in fine form Sunday evening.Over 150 St. Croix residents were at Frederick Dorsch Activity and Cultural Center Sunday evening, but sadly the guest of honor’s chair was empty.

Sadly, community icon Delta Jackson Dorsch was in the hospital, gravely ill. Sen. Ronald Russell, spokesman for the family, said the 95-year-old is resting comfortably at Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital and that the family appreciates everyone’s prayers.

The tribute, entitled “The Role of the Storyteller in V.I. Culture,” was being held “in celebration of the life and contributions of Mrs. Delta Jackson Dorsch, retired educator, storyteller, tradition bearer, matriarch, and daughter of the soil.”

The evening, sponsored by the Board of Governors of the V.I. Cultural Heritage Institute, began with several prominent members of the community paid tribute to Dorsch.

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They told how over the past seven decades, she had worked to preserve and chronicle the tradition of V.I. storytelling; and how h er interest began as a young girl and later as a young school teacher at the country school where children from the various estates shared with her their stories of Bru Nansi, along with Jumbie adventures.

According to speakers Sunday, Dorsch spent much of her life time promoting childhood education, the language art of storytelling, and preserving V.I. cultural heritage on St. Croix and throughout the territory.

Educator and author Karen Thurland said Dorsch’s career as an educator set a high standard for teachers, while Bradley Christian, of the V.I. Cultural Heritage Institute, said Dorsch told him to tell stories powerfully and in "our own dialect."

Retired teacher and storyteller Janice "Auntie Janice" Tutein said all the local storytellers were influenced by Dorsch. “She told us to memorize the stories and add our own slice of life,” Tutein explained.

Junie Bomba blew the conch shell horn to herald the beginning of the entertainment. The affair’s tone was set with a “Masquerade Tradition” dance by the Gate Keepers, which included a mocko jumbie and a colorfully-dressed spirit spilling libation. There was dancing by the West End Masqueraders, who were dressed from head to toe in brightly hued, tattered rags.

Lois Hassell-Habtes, the institute’s board chairman, began the storytelling, dedicating “Donkey Chew Tobacco and Spit White Lime,” to Dorsch. The audience members chimed in as a chorus in certain parts.

Stories were also told by Dimitri Copemann, Donna Samuel, Wayne “Bully” Petersen and more. Tutein told the story of "Granny Solongo Bam Bam Terio," a tale about guessing a crab’s name.

In keeping with tradition, a Crucian evening snack of cocoa and bush teas with titi bread and box cheese was served. Musical entertainment was provided by Stanley & the Ten Sleepless Knights.

Myron Jackson, the institute’s executive director, said he appreciated all who came out to celebrate the life of an extraordinary woman and all those volunteers who contributed to making the event a success.

“She gave from the heart to this community,” Jackson said.

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West End Masqueraders were in fine form Sunday evening.Over 150 St. Croix residents were at Frederick Dorsch Activity and Cultural Center Sunday evening, but sadly the guest of honor's chair was empty.

Sadly, community icon Delta Jackson Dorsch was in the hospital, gravely ill. Sen. Ronald Russell, spokesman for the family, said the 95-year-old is resting comfortably at Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital and that the family appreciates everyone’s prayers.

The tribute, entitled “The Role of the Storyteller in V.I. Culture,” was being held “in celebration of the life and contributions of Mrs. Delta Jackson Dorsch, retired educator, storyteller, tradition bearer, matriarch, and daughter of the soil.”

The evening, sponsored by the Board of Governors of the V.I. Cultural Heritage Institute, began with several prominent members of the community paid tribute to Dorsch.

They told how over the past seven decades, she had worked to preserve and chronicle the tradition of V.I. storytelling; and how h er interest began as a young girl and later as a young school teacher at the country school where children from the various estates shared with her their stories of Bru Nansi, along with Jumbie adventures.

According to speakers Sunday, Dorsch spent much of her life time promoting childhood education, the language art of storytelling, and preserving V.I. cultural heritage on St. Croix and throughout the territory.

Educator and author Karen Thurland said Dorsch’s career as an educator set a high standard for teachers, while Bradley Christian, of the V.I. Cultural Heritage Institute, said Dorsch told him to tell stories powerfully and in "our own dialect."

Retired teacher and storyteller Janice "Auntie Janice" Tutein said all the local storytellers were influenced by Dorsch. “She told us to memorize the stories and add our own slice of life,” Tutein explained.

Junie Bomba blew the conch shell horn to herald the beginning of the entertainment. The affair's tone was set with a “Masquerade Tradition” dance by the Gate Keepers, which included a mocko jumbie and a colorfully-dressed spirit spilling libation. There was dancing by the West End Masqueraders, who were dressed from head to toe in brightly hued, tattered rags.

Lois Hassell-Habtes, the institute's board chairman, began the storytelling, dedicating “Donkey Chew Tobacco and Spit White Lime,” to Dorsch. The audience members chimed in as a chorus in certain parts.

Stories were also told by Dimitri Copemann, Donna Samuel, Wayne “Bully” Petersen and more. Tutein told the story of "Granny Solongo Bam Bam Terio," a tale about guessing a crab’s name.

In keeping with tradition, a Crucian evening snack of cocoa and bush teas with titi bread and box cheese was served. Musical entertainment was provided by Stanley & the Ten Sleepless Knights.

Myron Jackson, the institute's executive director, said he appreciated all who came out to celebrate the life of an extraordinary woman and all those volunteers who contributed to making the event a success.

“She gave from the heart to this community,” Jackson said.