Narrative Storytelling

The Long Road Home

Billy Woolverton finds his way back to his long lost family

 Billy

This story was originally published almost 10 years ago in “The Blue Room.” This January will marked the 10  year anniversary of Billy Woolverton being reunited with his family. I recently heard from Billy, who is still doing well in Texas, and I thought it was an appropriate time to remember his amazing story.

When Billy Woolverton picks up the phone in Azle, Texas, on a mid-January morning he’s doing something he hasn’t done in a handful of years.

“Can you hang on just a second?” he asks in the unmistakable drawl of a polite southern gentleman. “I’ve gotta turn the T.V. down. I’m watching the Dukes of Hazard.”

“Sure,” I tell him, picturing the well-worn lines of his weather beaten face, the soft curls of his auburn hair and the contagious smile that crinkles his eyes in the corners, as he lowers the volume on his sister’s television set.

He sounds at ease as he settles himself into the couch while he recounts the events that led him back to the sister he hadn’t seen in more than 30 years and the mother he was ripped away from as a toddler and had long thought dead.

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Wrestling to the Top

Rob Elowitch’s Double Life

Originally published in “The Blue Room.”

RobLike a gladiator, Robbie Ellis slowly climbs up the three turnbuckles of the wrestling ring and turns to face his opponent Matt Rage, who attempts to get up from Robbie’s latest blow. Robbie hovers six feet above the ground; his chiseled body perched like a statue as he prepares for his famous finishing move, the big splash.

In one fell swoop he leaps off the top turnbuckle, gaining height, soaring like a superhero in flight, before he evens his frame out positioning his stomach parallel with the mat. With a loud smack he lands on Rage and successfully pins him. He jumps up, swaggers his hips and swings his jacket above his head; it’s another victory for crowd favorite Robbie Ellis.

“I do a lot of flying,” Robbie says. “It’s really my gimmick.”

As a fiery September sunset descends behind the VFW in Old Town, Maine, professional wrestler Robbie Ellis just made his comeback. Injured four months ago during a match in Sanford, Maine, the Sports Illustrated legend proved he is still has what it takes. At least 30 fans paid their hard earned money and suspended their disbelief to witness Robbie, and the other featured wrestlers of the evening, pummel each other inside the ring.

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Finding Their Voice

Homeless Voices for Justice Advocates for Social Change

Originally published in “The Blue Room.”

JimJim Devine leans forward in his chair, shakes some loose tobacco onto his coffee table and begins rolling himself a cigarette. Winter is winding down, and late afternoon sunlight streams through the windows of his Old Port apartment in the former CM Rice Paper Company building.

Jim’s mother used to work in the very building he now calls home. His studio contains the remnants of an old elevator shaft, which is where he makes his office. Yellow painted walls give way to exposed brick. Bottles and jars of amber, blue and green glass line the windowsills, reflecting soft prisms of light.

He pauses, as he rolls, to speak. He has the half rolled cigarette in one hand, but sets it down as he uses his hands to emphasize his points. Jim has more than a year of sobriety behind him and for the first time in a long time, his own apartment. He is an electrician by trade. But, his drinking, which began in college, escalated to the point where he found himself out of work and eventually, homeless.

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