Bob Thompson has many professional titles of his own: engineer, storyteller, writer, event producer, Kentucky Colonel, self-appointed ‘Commissioner of Kentucky Front Porches’, and ‘Resident Front Porch Philosopher’ on his weekly National Public Radio show.
Bob and I have been friends and workers for the Corn Island Storytelling Festival cornisland.us for many years. During that time, Bob wrote and told story after story at the Festival and for the Kentucky Homefront Radio show kentuckyhomefront.org. It became obvious that here was a man who never ran out of stories. He did not have to tell stories by other people nor did he have to repeat his own.
He always had time to encourage and support the rest of us storytellers. He introduced me on a program once as “The Queen of the Cold-Blooded Tales,” a title that my publisher liked so much that he used it as the title of my second book. Bob’s creativity, even in introductions, shows no limit.
His stories cover a wide range of subjects, including ghosts, humor, sadness, inspiration, and personal experiences that give a vivid picture of his Western Kentucky roots. I wonder if the nearby Ohio and Mississippi Rivers had some magical effect on him as he was growing up. His stories seem to flow endlessly like the rivers themselves.
Many of us Kentuckians can identify with Bob’s childhood experiences which often parallel our own. We remember working in the fields and visits to old country stores, where we listened with great interest to stories of the old folk who came as customers and stayed a while to visit.
In most homes, after dinner was over and chores were done, family and neighbors gathered at night to share stories, often about ghosts. These were the times when the dead were remembered or when they returned to bring a message or merely make an appearance to say hello. Bob has taken special care to pass these stories on to future generations in a manner that, even if the reader doesn’t believe in ghosts, these encounters will endure in the mind. Images are embedded in my memory of Bob hanging tobacco, helping with crop planting, and realizing that his long-dead grandfather was still watching over him. Bob makes his front porch ghosts as real as an ordinary visit from a friend.
Bob never writes ghost stories to shock or scare readers. His style is to tell the story in a matter-of-fact, believable manner. Using carefully chosen details, he pulls readers into the experience, allowing them to feel what the characters are feeling and then come to their own conclusions about what has happened. These stories can certainly send shivers surging through the body, but they can also touch the heart and open the mind to the presence of the supernatural. He doesn’t tell you what to think or attempt to convince you to become a believer in ghosts if you are not already. His presentation make his stories suitable for family reading and for people of all ages.
—Roberta Simpson Brown,
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