Over the past several months, I have been actively posting on and reading posts from people on Facebook pages dedicated to old photographs and history – especially for my hometown.  When reading the obituary of Gene Apple, the principal of the grade school I attended in the late 1950s and early 1960s, it immediately brought back many fond memories and some of the things I did that may have been normal for a young boy my age back then (i.e. questionable).

Obituary Stirs Memory and Discussion

Since his obituary raised some memories for me, I thought others might like to know that he had passed away and maybe stir up some conversation about our youth – so I posted his obituary on a few Facebook pages dedicated to history and memories of my home town with this commentary: 

“R.I.P Gene Apple – Former principal of the Lincoln Elementary grade school - I was there through grade 4 - late '50s and early '60s.  What stories are you going to share around the table this holiday season about your time at Lincoln Elementary?  For me, it will be the one and only time I got sent to his office for doing something unacceptable.  Everyone was afraid to be sent there because Mr. Apple had a paddle the size of a Cricket Bat leaning against the wall behind his desk – and we all knew it had been used.  Lucky for me, I was there about being involved in a snowball fight on the way home from school the day before – yes that was against the rules back then.  The school was still held responsible for children’s safety until they got home.  After that we could get hurt all we wanted.”

And it worked – there were many replies to the posting with people sharing their stories about Mr. Apple and other teachers from that time.  In one posting, a fellow shared his horror when he heard his name over the load speaker calling him to the principal’s office.  It seems that his teacher did not like how he was handling his duties as a student crossing guard after school. 

Beyond Photographs

These stories are snapshots of our lives and most of these will be lost when we pass away, except for the few things that our children will remember from oral discussions.  Many of you reading this posting may be retired and will look at a picture on a mantle and think back to those days with stories in your head of what it was like then.  Now is a great time to capture those moments and save them for your descendants.  And those of you who are younger – wouldn’t you love to have those stories to pass down to your children and grandchildren?  “There are many powerful reasons why you should share your life story.  Stories have a way of bringing families together. Children who know their family stories are happier and more resilient because they know they are part of something bigger than themselves. Stories shape our values. They are the way we teach without being preachy, and stories are the only way we will be remembered.”  (Rhonda Lauritzen - Evalogue.Life).

Numerous people who have downloaded the database we offer have already begun to document what was happening when their old family images were taken.  Those are snippets of a person’s life.  We all have had countless activities and memories made between those images - stories that should also be saved and passed down to future generations.

One of the easiest ways to document family history is to work in a small trusted group.  Some of you will say - I really do not want to share my life with outsiders.  However, if you create a small group of people that already know you, your family and what you have been up to all those past years, they could be valuable help in clarifying the stories and adding some details that may have been forgotten.  “Writing is a process where we oftentimes bare our soul, our innermost thoughts – especially when writing memoir, autobiography, or family history type work. When doing creative writing there is also some soul baring too. It can feel a bit awkward to read aloud your work to a group for scrutiny or even for praise. But it works. Why does it work? Because feedback is a vital tool for improvement and success.  In our work with clients and students here at Evalogue.Life, we have found it to be a universal need that people crave feedback on their projects.”  (Rachel J. Trotter - Evalogue.life).

My Memoir Journey

Having been semi-retired for a few years now, I have started the process of making notes and attending some local classes on memoir and writing about myself.  I even attended a workshop on writing about severe health issues since I had a major health event several years ago.  That was really enlightening and offered many insights into writing about family member’s health issues beyond just my own.

In the spring of 2009, I signed up for an introductory memoir writing class.  This was when the concept of writing our own memoirs was just gaining acceptance and people becoming interested.  I found the exercise interesting, and came away with wanting much more.  One of the writing prompts that the instructor used was – write for the next fifteen minutes about your first love.  Most everyone wrote about their first girlfriend or boyfriend.  But, we did have a few couples in the class and I always wondered what subject they chose to write about – their first love and then have to explain that to their partner??????

So, here is my fifteen minute essay on my first love.

“I will always remember my first love – the richest tasting, most overly embellished designed buttercream cake ever created.  My mother came from Germany and learned at a young age how to make some of the richest and pleasing to-the-eye desserts to compliment and finish a meal with.  This eating environment has probably contributed to my ongoing challenge with weight control.

I would watch her in late fall, winter or early spring.  She would spend several hours mixing and tasting until everything was just right before starting the creation process.  Once baked, she would begin the laborious task of being bent over for what seemed to me like all day.  She had the perfect symmetrical design in her mind – each time it was slightly different, but basically the same.  This was a time when the art of making food pleasant to the eye was as important as making sure it tasted really good. 

Since air conditioning was mostly unknown to the working-class families for their homes in the 1950s and 1960s, this wonderful dessert was only created in cooler months of the year.  So much real butter was used in the icing and creating the intricate designs that in warmer summer months, all of that would just slide right off before we could have a chance to indulge our taste buds.

It was not until the evening meal that the family would get a chance to dive into what Mom had been working on for so many hours that day.  To me, it was the nectar of the gods – a taste I fell in love with at a very early age.  Today, I am unable to replicate the dessert that I loved so much in the past.  My mother never wrote down the recipe – always working on it from memory.  Today, it is just a memory of the taste and experiences of watching it being created.”

Soooooo, don’t let fear of writing hold you back, many times there are local classes being offered by genealogy clubs or local colleges.  And online it is easy to find courses to take.  Rhonda Lauritzen was gracious enough to allow me to use some quotes from her blog postings at Evalogue.Life.  She is offering 7 different courses on her web site that will get you started quickly and efficiently with your memoir or autobiography – for as low as $37.  Disclaimer:  I am receiving no financial compensation for this recommendation. 

Now would be a great time to get started on your story.

 

Comments

  • Rhonda Laurtizen said:

    Thanks so much for posting this. You have great thoughts on memoir and autobiography. What a great article. I’m honored that you would mention me and Evalogue.Life. I can see how much we have in common and am looking forward to sharing your article.

    December 03, 2021


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