Monthly Archives: December 2010

Tell Me A Story

My Uncle Gordon and Mom at my Grandfathers gasstation/Grocery Store at Walton Rd and Old US 31 in Niles MI around 1930

     Listen.  Can you hear it? The hum in the air as friends and family gather
together. Really listen as the humming harmony of voices begins to
separate into each familiar voice. The voices tell of life past and
present, of comedy, tragedy, and drama. It’s all playing out right
there if you listen.

     With the starting of the New Year maybe it’s
time to learn about your story. When I was little my Grandfather
was always telling me about how he grew up. Of course he had found
a willing audience. Then sometime in the mid to late 1960’s my mom
talked him into writing down the things and events that he
remembered. He didn’t think it was that interesting, but he granted
her request in long hand. Mom carefully typed it out on our old
manual typewriter not once, but at least 6 times. Ah, the good old
days. I keep my copy in a safe place, pulling it out now and then
to share with someone. Someday I will take the time to put it into
the computer.

     I believe we all have a story to tell. Maybe because
we’ve been the ones living our lives we feel, like my Grandfather
did, that it’s not interesting. You would be surprised at the tales
that can be told to the willing listener, and the pleasure it

     One place to find out about your story is with older
relatives. Now that the colder days are setting in it is the time
of year that is lonelier for our older friends and relatives. Many
have a hard time getting out and would love a visitor. Sure, it’s
nice to talk about what is happening now in our lives, but many
age-challenged people don’t have a lot going on right now to talk
about. What they do have is history and when encouraged to do so
they love to talk about. Our older population has so much to teach
us about history and our ancestral background, if we take the time
to ask. You could start off asking things like: “Where were you
born?” “What was the house you lived in like?” or “What was the
depression like?” Many of the elderly population have first hand
knowledge of growing up in the 1930’s. The things that shaped their
lives and in turn the lives of their children are sometimes taken
for granted now. Ask permission first, but write it down or even
ask the person if they would consider writing things down. Even
just jotting down short memories that they happen upon when no one
is around can be great areas of discussion when you do visit.

     When family or friends gather together is another time that the stories
will fly. Sometimes each one is bigger than the last and, believe
me, they are told from many different perspectives. In this relaxed
atmosphere the brain tends to open up. One memory will trigger
another and another. This brings up long forgotten events,
emotions, and names of friends that have moved on to other places
and new adventures. This can also be a little scary when everyone
is talking about the girl or guy in our 4th hour history class in
high school and the only name we can come up with is “You know who
I’m talking about, get out the yearbook”. Of course this adds a lot
more memories to the discussion or fuel to the fire. It’s always
good for a few laughs and also a few sad reminders.

     Before there was written history there were stories told around the campfire.
These stories were passed down from one generation to the next.
Slowly as families grew farther apart the family connections were
lost and the stories were forgotten. Maybe it’s time we got
reconnected. While there is still time to learn about past
generations, talk to the older people in your life while they are
still here. You might be surprised at what you find out. All it
takes is asking someone “Please, tell me a story about your past.
Tell me what your life was like. Tell me what the depression was
like. Tell me about the war. Tell me about my Family. I will make
time to listen.”


Posted by on December 31, 2010 in Life, Random things from the farm


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