Featuring: Brad Maurer (Posthumously)
Storyteller, Librarian, D&D Master
Brad Maurer was more a storyteller than a librarian. For 35 years, yes, he was a librarian. Though all 69 of his years, he was a storyteller. I do have a strong belief in the Pre-Existence…so he had many more years before coming to Earth and now plenty more in the heavens. When Halloween came around, I looked forward to the Spooktacular events throughout the Davis County Library System. Halloween was only Halloween when performing side-by-side with Brad Maurer. Some of these memories are the result of Janine Nishiguchi and I reminiscing together.
Brad’s partner-in-crime for storytelling was Marilyn Getts. They both became branch librarians who had the talents to spin spooky tales as entangled as spider webs. They had quite the repertoire together that I was honored to participate in such as “Hoppa, Hoppa” with a pumpkin that “hopped” or “hoppa, hoppa” from one person to another until facing off with brave and hungry pig or “Old Devil Wind” where various inanimate objects come to life from the door to the broom to the floor and on and on and all because of that “old devil wind.”
Brad had a cat theme in his scary stories from “The King o’ Cats” on people discussing on who is Tom Tildrum in front of what appears to be a normal cat to “Wait Till Martin Comes” where the cats get bigger and bigger and the man has to decide if he really wants to “wait till Martin comes.” Both feel like Brad’s signature pieces and both that I looked forward to him performing. I have heard these classic stories before I met Brad about 10 years ago. Yet, he brought the most life to these stories. I could even believe that Brad could be part-cat in the way he had the perfect yowls and sounds.
What helped in the whole telling was purely Brad’s presence. He was a giant of a man in more than one way. Giant in size of both height and heart. Before he needed a wheelchair when battling Parkinson’s Disease, he was well over 6 feet tall…maybe even 6 1/2 feet tall. He towered over his audience. His voice was loud enough but yet quiet enough to get a sense that all the stories he was telling could be true–as if we were sharing this secret with him.
Despite his size, everyone knew he was really a big o’ teddy bear.
Though, to throw people off, he loved wearing a dark hoody on those Spooktacular nights and put on a monster mask. Now, masks can throw off and possibly scare little kids. Brad knew the importance of a little scare. We, as humans, face scary things every day.
Eleanor Roosevelt said:
You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
Often, people misquote Eleanor Roosevelt for saying “do one thing every day that scares you.”
I like the actual and longer version. I have a feeling Brad would appreciate it, too.
How else can it be explained that he and Marilyn Getts delighted in the telling of “Aaron Kelly’s Bones”? A woman is faced with a good-fer-nothin’ husband that won’t stay dead…or at least won’t stay in his grave. He hangs around, bones and all, rocking back and forth in the rocking chair. Somehow, this woman has another man to call on her. This man is a phenomenal fiddle player and the two of them find out that Aaron Kelly loves to dance and loosens some bones as a result.
To end those Spooktacular nights, Brad and Marilyn often did this poem with the audience repeating the “Ooo__________ Ahh__________Ooo” after each line. This is not the exact wording but closest to how I remember them sharing it. Janine Nishiguchi says she has the exact words that Brad and Marilyn used…so I will edit this when that is possible.
A woman stood by the churchyard wall
The woman she was gaunt and tall
A corpse was being carried in
The corpse was very pale and thin
The worms crawled in and the worms crawled out
In at the nose and out of the snout
The woman to the corpse said:
“Shall I be like that when I am dead?”
Cue Marilyn’s blood-curdling scream. Yes, we sometimes had to warn library patrons to ignore screams on Spooktacular nights.
I always sensed the greatest delights for Brad in the poem to be “the worms crawled in and the worms crawled out.” Obviously, Marilyn’s favorite part was the scream.
Perhaps Brad had another appreciation for fear and death. For over 14 years, Brad battled not only Parkinson’s Disease but also Cancer. He beat out the Cancer, but the Parkinson’s made it’s mark. Still, I never sensed that he was afraid at what was happening. Every time I saw him, like one time at the Smith’s Grocery Store, he was as delightful as ever with plenty of smiles.
Even after Brad’s retirement as the Centerville Branch Manager–in which he was famous for welcoming EVERYBODY with some kind of welcoming statement–he still volunteered with some evening storytimes at the South Branch Library in Bountiful, Utah. When it was the 50th Birthday Party for the South Branch Library in January 2020, it was an honor and true pleasure to see Brad and his wife attend. As a result, Janine Nishiguchi performed “Caps for Sale: a tale of a peddler, some monkeys, and their monkey business” by Esphyr Slobodkina. Brad had more than scary stories in his repertoire and this was another one of his favorite to share.
It wasn’t until reading a little about Brad’s life that I understood how big he was into Dungeons & Dragons…and made perfect sense upon discovery. The imagination soars in that game, which is partly why I enjoy it myself and have my own dice. Though, my love of the game does not even compare to Brad’s involvement and dedication. I saw online that some people made memory bracelets that featured a dragon in Brad’s name. Some day, I will see Brad again and tell him about my own D&D character, a forest gnome named Nissa Folknor (nicknamed Nim) who was a bard and played many different instruments to soothe as well as to stir the soul.
His family knows so much more than me–as they ought. Truly, a fantastic and gentle man…with enough to shake up some scares for the sake of fun.
Thank you for your influence and kindness, Brad!
Do you know a Story Artist who has passed on and want others to remember them? Memories? Pictures? You can submit names and memories of Story Artists who have passed on through our online form.
I appreciate Brad for the influence of yesterday, today, and forever in storytelling and his way of listening and believing you are the most wonderful person in the world. Of course, you would hear his stories and think he is the most wonderful person in the world. Thank you, Brad.
Brad still has a story. You have a story. We all have stories.