Haircuts & Oral Histories – Guest Post

Daniel Powell of Liminal Legacy Media shares a fun story from his own history in this guest blog post. Inspired by his grandfather’s audio recordings, in 2019 Daniel founded Liminal Legacy Media using his extensive audio production skills. He is a master storyteller!

Haircuts & Oral Histories
 
“Hey, Grandpop! Shut your eyes!”
I say to my 80-year-old grandfather as I crouch behind the easy chair clutching a pair of kitchen shears.
{*SNIP*}
 
I emerge wearing a big grin.
“Ok, eyes open! Notice anything different?” holding back a giggle as I ask.
“Uh… well… no, Daniel, I don’t see anything different.”
 “Ok, ok. Eyes closed!”
I duck behind the chair once again.
{*SNIP* – *SNIP* – *SNIP*}
 
Me: “Ok, how about now? Now do you notice anything different?”
Grandpop: “Well, nooo… No difference as far as I can see.”
I return to my hideaway, taking another lock of hair between my fingers.
{*SNIP* – *SNIP* – *SNIP* – *SNIP*}
And the fun of a 5-year-old giving himself a haircut continues. But, of course, my grandfather didn’t notice any of the changes I was making to my hair; he was legally blind! A fact I didn’t fully comprehend at the time. Eventually he did catch on though when Grandmother entered the room and filled him in on what had been taking place right before his eyes. He had a good laugh about it. Though my parents were considerably less entertained when they arrived later that day. 
 
Grandpop was a good man, and obviously, a great sport playing creative games made up by his grandson.  
 
I consider myself very lucky. You see, Grandpop took it upon himself to record a detailed account of his life story for his kids and grandkids. In fact, he was the only one of my 4 grandparents to do so before passing. Being a blind man, writing wasn’t accessible to him. So, sitting in that same easy chair I used to hide behind, he took to his cassette tape recorder and immortalized the tales of his past in the sound of his own voice.

Listening back at the age of 34, I’m forever grateful to him for it.

 
He told all about his humble beginning on the family farm in rural Arkansas, leaving home during the Great Depression to work with the CCC, and of his 2 decades of service in the USAF spanning both WWII and Korean wars. He had quite the storied past.
 
Such a wealth of stories and information is communicated through these recordings. But there are moments I find myself shouting at him through my headphones:
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Grandpop! SLOW DOWN! Stop the tape! REWIND! I want to hear more about THAT.”
But paying no heed to my pleas, he’s already told his brief recount and moved on to the next part of his tale.

 
Oh, how I wish I could’ve been there to ask him in-depth questions about his life as he told his tale.
 
We know our own stories very well. But the difficult part comes in discerning what others may want to know about our stories. Well… unless they’re in the room with you asking questions and expressing curiosity.
 
Whatever it takes for you to record your stories, do it!
Whether you write, record audio, or even make a video, just do it!


And I can’t encourage you enough to invite others into the story telling process with you. A curious individual, a good interviewer, or coach can help you tell your story so much more completely and draw out the depth, vibrance, and important details of your lived experiences.
 
There’s something quite miraculous that takes place in this collaborative and interactive way of telling your stories. Questions raised by your counterpart can bring to light connections between pieces of your story that you may have never even realized beforehand.  And when we’re really lucky these questions can even result in new self-realizations. There’s no moment more precious for your memoir than reflecting back on lived experiences and learning something new about yourself in the process!
 
Through my work helping individuals record their Liminal LegacyTM Immersive Audio Memoirs, I’ve found that when left to ourselves, just like my grandfather, we all tend to cut our own stories short {*SNIP*} and {*SNIP SNIP*} cut off many important details that others would find great value in. And oftentimes {*SNIP SNIP SNIP*} we cut out details because we’ve simply forgotten them. Though through some strange alchemy in the process of sitting with a curious person or a good interviewer, many of these details can begin to come back to light again.
 
Just like a grandchild who’s very poorly barbered their own hair, your stories will be beautiful, regardless of how completely they’re told or how much detail they contain. Just sit down and do it whatever way you can! But one thing that remains true of both storytelling and haircuts, when you do it all on your own it can be hard to ensure your not cutting off the best bits.  
***
Thanks for reading, I bet you have a smile on your face and a few ideas for your own story! I know you’ll want to stay in touch with Daniel and his oral history work. Here are a few ways you can find him:
Web Site: www.liminallegacymedia.com
Instagram: @liminallegacymedia
YouTube: Liminal Legacy Media
Facebook: @liminallegacymedia
Daniel prizes the oral tradition and through his company, Liminal Legacy Media, helps you tell your story through Immersive Audio Memoirs. What exactly is an Immersive Audio Memoir? These legacy audio documentaries lie somewhere between ‘radio theater’ and ‘intimate interview’. Your voice tells the story while powerfully designed audio imagery evokes the scene in the mind’s eye of the listener. Daniel currently lives in Grand Rapids, MI with his wife and 2 young daughters.
 
Contact Daniel today for more information or to start recording your Liminal Legacy!

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Me & the Model T

This year is one of showcasing others’ writing as well as my own. My goal is to encourage you to mine the resources of your memory, of your family history, of those boxes of keepsakes and albums of photos to tell your own story, and that of those you care about. I first became acquainted with Stuart Balcomb’s book sharing about his grandfather’s experiences in early New Mexico, Me & the Model T, via a FaceBook group called Forgotten New Mexico. (If you like New Mexico history, this is a fun spot to check out.) He graciously agreed to share an excerpt from the book here. Thank you Stuart!


Stuart Balcomb: When my grandfather retired, he wrote quite a lot about his life. Two books that were published are “The Red River Hill,” about him supervising the building of the road down into Red River, NM. “A Boy’s Albuquerque: 1898-1912” chronicles his early years from ages 7-21. After he died I received three boxes of photos and unpublished manuscripts that I felt were too good not to be made public. I had recently formed Amphora Editions to publish my father’s book on photography, and I then published my grandfather’s “Me & the Model T.” His next book will be “The Dogs In My Life,” about the 14 dogs he owned during his long life.

The following is an excerpt from the book:

From 1919-1923 my grandfather, Kenneth Balcomb, was assigned a WWI Army surplus Model T while he worked as an engineer for the United States Bureau of Public Roads, traveling over 63,000 miles to survey, inspect, and construct highways in New Mexico. During that time, he wrote to his wife (my grandmother) and his brother, John, describing his adventures. I published the 50+ letters as “Me & the Model T: 63,000 Miles in Mr. Ford’s Wonder Car.” It is an important snapshot of a unique time in America, right when the country was converting from the horse-and-buggy to that new-fangled contraption, the automobile. Kenneth wrote this letter from the Government Camp, east of Albuquerque in Tijeras Canyon on August 4, 1919:


Dear Katharine, I have been busy overseeing a construction job and keeping ahead of a survey crew many miles apart, at the same time coaxing a Model T over roads a team of mules would have difficulty negotiating. We are in our third camp of the survey, at Skinner’s Sawmill site in upper Tejano Canyon. Mr. Skinner operated a sawmill there many years ago. The decaying timber platform for the machinery and great piles of rotting sawdust are all that is left. The reason for the mill being there and the reason we use it for a campsite is the spring of pure, clear water. We had to rebuild the road the mill people had used before we could get our wagon of supplies and equipment to the site. I think I could also have coaxed the Ford over the road, but it rains nearly every day and I find that when the little car gets into either mud or sand it gets the shivers and digs in. So, I leave it at Epifanio’s house in San Antonito and walk the four miles from there to camp.


Our first camp was in San Antonito, across the road from Charlie Camp’s saloon. In addition to being the saloon keeper, Charlie is the town Jefe. He is Italian and his real name is Carlos Campo, but he has conveniently anglicized it. In addition to dispensing questionable liquor to the Penitenties, Charlie has an excellent well of cold water, complete with an old oaken bucket, and that is the reason we made camp there.
Our second camp was alongside of the earthen reservoir where excellent spring water is stored for household and irrigation use by the people of San Antonito. Here again, it was the water we needed. Epifanio lives nearby in San Antonito.


I think my Model T should be considered a community benefactor, as its tires have picked up most of the metal pieces from the roadway for about twenty miles. I am sure if I had saved them they would have filled a shoebox. I more and more realize the Model T is a remarkable piece of machinery.  Even though its performance is at times exasperating, it is nevertheless reassuring.  One acquires a faith that if properly coaxed and cursed, it will get him back alive. In its low gear, even though it may twist and turn and grumble, it will pull over a road that would challenge a team of mules and wagon, but one thing is certain: My back muscles are getting strong from operating the tire pump–like the men on the railroad section-gang who propel a hand car by pumping up and down on a handle. For some reason I can’t understand, it is the right-rear tire that picks up the most pieces of metal, and the tube has so many patches that it looks like a crazy quilt.


We must pack into our next camp, which will be at the head of Madera Canyon, about midway from the sawmill site to the Ellis ranch. I will drive the Ford to La Madera and ride a horse from there to camp. The road from San Antonito to La Madera, about seven miles, is virgin territory for an automobile and should be a fertile field for the rear-right tire to find many more spikes and screws.
Love, Kenneth

Writer, artist, and musician Stuart Balcomb wears many hats. Before moving to LA he taught at Berklee College of Music in Boston; he has written arrangements for Woody Herman, Cher, Donald O’Connor, Andy Williams, Gary Burton and the Buffalo Philharmonic, and composed for Batman: The Animated Series. His “American Trilogy” was performed and recorded by the NY Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet. As head of the Music Library at Universal Studios, he supervised the music preparation for over 600 films and TV shows. Since 2001 he has run the TheScreamOnline, featuring art, music, photography, literature, and film from around the world, and his publishing site is Amphora Editions. You can connect with Stuart through any of these sites to enjoy his work:

https://thescreamonline.com

https://amphoraeditions.com

http://www.transcendentsound.net

Have a story you’d like to see in print but don’t know how to begin? I’d be delighted to visit with you and help you get “unstuck” so you can share those memories. Give me a call and let’s chat! In the meantime, follow Remembering the Time on FaceBook or pop over to the Family History & Memoir Writers Fellowship FaceBook Group to be inspired and encouraged in your storytelling journey.

Karen

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The Remarkable Rescue of Moby Truck

Stories of unusual circumstances, help received, and miracles witnessed are important parts of your memoir or family history. We love to share our memories of these events and marvel at the outcomes. These tales often begin the discussion, “Do you believe in coincidence?” Entire books have been written devoted to describing events somewhere on the out-of-the-ordinary scale. Here’s one of mine to inspire you to write your own or record those that have been passed down in your own family history.
 

God has come through with amazing goodness in my life

so many times in my five-plus decades on the planet.


And these are just the events I’m aware of! Since my writing and editing sandbox is memoir and family history, I’ll share a personal memory my family still likes to talk about. Come along on the journey with me. 

One beautiful New Mexico fall day my husband and I took our three children, all under six, up to our favorite mountain canyon a few hours away for a day trip picnic. We drove an enormous white aging crew cab truck the kids had nicknamed “The Big White Bumpy Truck”. I called it Moby, in a nod to a literary favorite. Yes, I do laugh at my own jokes! 

Our much-loved routine was to let the kids unbuckle their seatbelts once we turned off onto the slow-going dirt road that led through the scattered junipers dotting the mesa. We drove with the windows down, enjoying the sharp clean smell of the juniper trees. The kids loved standing in the back seat, riding the bumps and swerves with the old truck’s suspension as their dad carefully navigated the last miles. There’s nothing quite like the screeches and giggles of delighted children.
 

Down in the depths of the canyon, at the bottom of

yet another rutted, steep dirt road…


we played in the creek, ran around, chased each other, and had loads of fun for several hours. This is how you wear out young kids, right? When it came time to hop back in Moby and head home late that afternoon, the engine wouldn’t turn over. Hubby tried all the tricks in his book to get it to start. We looked at each other as only privately panicking parents can, while the kids played with the dog and ate the picnic leftovers. 

Moby’s starter had gone out in a big way and we weren’t going anywhere.  Did I mention it gets really cold at night at this elevation in these NM mountains? The nearest town was two hours away. Picnic food reduced to crumbs, only marshmallows and hot chocolate packets left, kids tired and happily grubby, we thought about what to do and prayed.  

Hubby started the long hike down the valley to the rocky road back out of the canyon in hopes of hitching a ride and getting help. Not too far down the single track road, he was met by a father and son out bear hunting. Yes, you heard it right. There are bears in these mountains. And mountain lions. And rattlesnakes. They voluntarily cut short their hunt that day and offered to drive him out to Silver City two hours away. He gratefully accepted.

The kids and I bundled up in our coats as the sun moved lower behind the towering pines, and I determined to make this something of an adventure. My parents had instilled this important concept and life skill in my brother and me during many a long summer road trip full of detours and unexpected challenges when we were kids. It has stood me well and helped to create good memories even in the middle of inevitable travel “adventures”.
 

So, I made more hot chocolate over the fire and we roasted more marshmallows. The rest of the s’more fixings had been gobbled up hours ago.


And I prayed. Boy, did I pray! I learned later that Hubby was praying the whole time too on his parts sourcing mission. Intensely uncomfortable at the necessity of leaving his wife and kids down in the canyon bottom with night closing in, he had no choice but to get a new starter as soon as possible and return to put it in. No tow trucks in that part of the country. No AAA, no phones, nearest house miles away. We’d spent most of our lives camping and backpacking so he held onto that thought.

While cleaning marshmallow residue and dirt off my youngest’s face as the sun dropped behind the ridge I thought, Hmmm, I’m going to try one more time to get this thing started.
 

“Kids, everybody get back in the car.”


“Dear Lord please just let it start…” I turned the key, nothing. Turned it again, afraid of draining the battery. Nothing. Thought about bears. Prayed again and turned the key one more time, splutter, cough, grind…Glory be, it turned over! I was ecstatic! And was amped up with way too much adrenaline to focus on how terrified I am to drive the narrow dirt roads hanging over these mountain valleys. 

I put out the campfire, buckled the kids in and ordered them to sit tight, and began a white-knuckled creep in the one-ton behemoth up the road, straddling ruts, avoiding axle killing large rocks, trying to hug the inside edge of the road. And lovingly commanded,
 

“Don’t talk to Mommy right now.”


All the while praying no one would come driving toward us from the other direction. There’s no room to turn around, barely enough room to pass, and let’s just say that my backing up skills leave much to be desired. When I gunned the gas and topped that last rise to the mesa I was shaking. I reassured the kids, told them I loved them and could talk again, and just eased the truck across the flats toward the setting sun. We sang a few silly songs and reached the county road on the other side, old Moby still chugging along without any hitch in its get-along.

Heading down the backroad highway toward home I parked in front of a tiny pie and coffee café catering to area ranchers. I left the truck running and prayed the kids would sit still while I ran in, letting the old screen door slam, and begged use of the vintage phone hanging on the wall. My parting words to the kids, “Nobody move from your seat! Don’t touch anything. Mommy will be right back.” I couldn’t shut the truck off or it probably wouldn’t start again. Somehow, I reached my husband who had made it home for parts and help (no cell phones in those days). I told him we were fine, were just going to drive home, and I wasn’t going to stop for anything. Thank you, Jesus! 

End of the story, Hubby replaced the worn-out starter that week and we were reminded of the many strings God pulls to take care of us. We ate beans and tortillas for a month to pay for the unexpected expense. I also learned that in spite of fear, I can do more than I think I can by the grace of God. I remain a big chicken when it comes to driving twisty mountain roads but I can do it. Our grown kids still love hearing this story retold and it reminds us of the many adventures we’ve shared.
 

Want another marshmallow anybody?


What’s your story? I’d love to hear about one of your family adventures!
Karen 

#familyhistory #memoirwriting #lifestory #journalprompts #familylife

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The Mystery of Moses Jordan

My fellow family historian Patricia D’Ascoli is stepping in to share her own family history mystery. She is a skilled writer and researcher and I’m delighted to share her work with you. She’s also an active member of the Family History and Memoir Writer’s Fellowship FaceBook group. Her story is a fascinating read and we hope it will prompt you to write about the stories in your own family. Patricia can be reached at Patriciafdascoli@gmail.com and welcomes talking with you about bringing your family history to life.


The Mystery of Moses Jordan – Patricia F. D’Ascoli

Every family historian comes across the unknown—a gap to be filled, a missing puzzle piece to be found. This is the story of my journey to uncover the truth about the disappearance of my paternal great grandfather, Moses Jordan. I had very little to go on when I began my search:

Facts: Moses Jordan b. 1844 married Sarah Kuykendall b. 1853 in 1870. They had a daughter, Margaret, in 1873 and a son, Alvin in 1881. Moses worked for the railroad and the family lived in Port Jervis, New York.

Lore: My grandmother Margaret told my father this brief tale: One day when she and her mother Sarah were walking in the park, they saw Moses with another woman.

At some point following this sighting, Moses vanished and never returned.

There was no date, no place or any other names attached to this story. Despite this limited information, I felt confident I could solve the mystery.

Before I began my search, I examined a tiny photograph of Moses and Sarah. Neither of my great grandparents is smiling. Moses is sitting, and Sarah is standing behind him with her left hand placed on his shoulder. Moses, who has dark wavy hair and a mustache, wears a suit with a bow tie. Sarah wears a high neck gown; her hair is up.

Researchers must have a desire to dig deep and think critically. Although I had little to go on, the search was not as difficult as I imagined it might be. Through Ancestry.com and Newspapers.com I was able to solve the mystery of my great grandfather’s disappearance. And in doing so, I uncovered a dirty secret: Moses Jordan was a thief, an adulterer and a liar. He was also very, very fat.

I started with the 1875 New York census where I discovered the family in Port Jervis, New York. Moses worked as assistant yardmaster for the Erie Railroad. Research revealed that in 1880 Moses was appointed assistant dispatcher at Bergen, New Jersey. The 1880 US census confirmed that the family lived in Jersey City. City directories showed they continued to live in Jersey City until 1890.

I wondered whether there might be a newspaper account of this event. Once upon a time, newspapers were replete with the intimate details of ordinary individuals’ lives so there was a good chance such a story would appear in the papers.

Two newspapers reported on the disappearance in November 1890. These articles gave me all I needed to know about my great grandfather. He was a scoundrel of the worst kind.

“Moses Jordan, the yardmaster of the Erie Railroad, has eloped. On November 11, payday, he borrowed all the money he could get from storekeepers along Pavonia Avenue, and after ordering his trunk to be shipped from his residence, 283 Pavonia Avenue, to 106 River Street, Hoboken, he skipped. About the same time, it is rumored a well-known woman disappeared from the city. While the elopement was being planned and carried out, Mrs. Jordan was at Wurtsboro, New York, attending the funeral of her father. The runaway leaves her and a nineteen-year-old daughter and ten-year-old crippled son behind him.” Jersey Journal 11/20/90.

“Jordan has been practically separated from his wife for some time past, owing to the latter’s suspicions of his intrigue with another woman. Who she was could not be learned except that she was a married woman who was not living with her husband. The deserted wife declined to give her rival’s name or impart any particulars concerning her.” Tri-States Union 11/27/90.

Sarah’s departure for her father’s funeral was a fortuitous occurrence for Moses, as he and the mystery woman were able to leave Jersey City without her knowledge. I imagined my great grandmother grieving her father’s death in New York, returning home with her two children only to discover that Moses had left. She was then questioned by the police. And saw her shame laid bare in the newspapers.

I was determined to find out the identity of the woman who had destroyed three lives. A little more searching gave me the answer. On June 6, 1891, the New York Tribune published this short piece:

“Master of Chancery Romaine made a report in favor of granting a divorce to Sarah D. Jordan from Moses S. Jordan. Jordan was yardmaster for the Erie Railroad in Jersey City. He eloped November last with Mrs. Elizabeth Rowe, a married woman.”

Bingo. The identity of the mystery woman was revealed: Elizabeth Rowe—the woman who stole my great grandfather away from his wife and children. I wanted to know more about her. A search revealed that Moses Jordan married Elizabeth Roe on January 13, 1904 in Manhattan. They were married 14 years after their disappearance. Hmmm. Where had Moses and Elizabeth lived between 1890 and 1904?

I decided to look for Mr. Roe. In the 1885 New Jersey census I found Lewis C. Roue living in Jersey City. Also living at that address were Jeremiah, Ella and Lizzie Hulick. Lizzie is a nickname for Elizabeth—was this Lizzie the future Mrs. Roe? A marriage record for Lewis Roe and Annie E. Hulick dated July 29, 1886, confirmed that she was. I assumed Elizabeth must have been her middle name. Further sleuthing showed that Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Roe had a daughter Sarah born August 25, 1887.

My search continued. In the 1900 U.S. census I found Moses Jordan, who stilled worked for the railroad, living in Susquehanna, PA. The scandal had not impacted his career apparently. His wife—of 10 years per the census—was Anne E. Jordan. I felt certain this was Annie E. Hulick Roe, as subsequent censuses showed her as Elizabeth Jordan. In 1900 the Jordans had three children: Harry (b. 1891 NY), Mae (b. 1893 PA) and Harold (b.1896 PA). Sarah Roe lived with the Jordans as well.

The story might have ended here. Like every family history sleuth, however, I knew there was more information to be found. From a brief newspaper account, I learned Moses had suffered a serious injury. The headline read:

“Mishap Due to Too Much Fat. Stout Yardmaster was Rolled Along Fence by Train and Perhaps Mortally Hurt.”

“Moses Jordan, who for many years was yardmaster on the Erie at Bergen, New Jersey, then at Hornellsville, and of late in charge of the yards at Dundee, where the branch lines to the Passaic Mills are located, was probably mortally injured yesterday. His extreme corpulency was responsible for his misfortune. Seeing a freight train approaching Jordan stepped off the tracks and backed up against a board fence. But the three cars brushed against the stout yardmaster and rolled him along the fence nearly thirty feet. His shoulder was broken, and it is feared he is hurt internally.” The Morning Call 8/29/02.

My first thought was that Moses got his just desserts. But I hated to think my great grandfather died as the result of such a brutal accident. I learned in subsequent accounts that Moses survived. The Jordans moved back to Jersey City where he continued to work for the Erie Railroad.

A death notice appeared in the Jersey Journal:

“JORDAN – On February 3, 1927 Moses S. Jordan, widower of the late Elizabeth Jordan. Relatives and friends are invited to attend funeral service at establishment of Mark M. Fagan at 527 Jersey Avenue on Sunday, February 6 at 1:00 PM.”

I do not know where my great grandfather is buried. But I do know that his secret is not buried with him. Thanks to my research, I was able to solve the mystery of Moses Jordan.

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Have a story of your own to share? I’d love to hear from you, you can reach me at karen@rememberingthetime.net.

Karen

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What do You Treasure?

A year ago I wrote about priceless possessions. The world has revolved 365 more times and so much has changed. Some things, however, never change, like the power of sharing our stories. So I want to revisit the life-changing importance of saving memories.

Back in 1905, the discovery of an enormous 1.33-pound rough diamond made for impressive news. It started out as just a rock in a pile of dirt. Today, select cut gems from this behemoth are displayed in the Tower of London in a place of honor on the Royal Scepter and the Imperial State Crown. All because someone had vision. A tremendous amount of effort and expense is invested in protecting these treasures. However, if you’ve lived for any length of time on this planet you know that objects can be lost, stolen, or destroyed.

Memories too can be lost and can’t be recovered like a piece of stolen artwork or jewelry. Perhaps, like me, you’ve experienced the sad reality that those who could tell you the stories behind those old black and white photos in the ornate photo albums, who could connect the dots in your family’s history, or relate their eye-witness take on world events they’ve experienced, are long gone.

No one thought to not just ask for the story, but to write it down. The photos are still here, but the story is gone. We’re left guessing at missing pieces, trying to put the puzzle together and understand the big picture.

The truth I wrote last year still holds, “Memories are yours, to replay, to cherish, to share…they are the only thing that is uniquely yours.” Your memories are your precious treasure.

None of us know when we might be robbed of the ability to share them with those we love, through a variety of
events outside our control.

What If…this was the year you mined those raw gems of memory and family story? What if… you brushed off the debris, shone a beautiful, warm light on it to bring out the colors, and polished it just so to gleam in a place of honor as the treasure it rightly is?

What if…you made a commitment to treat those memories with the care and honor you might give to your most priceless physical possession? Does thinking about your memories this way give you clarity and purpose?

Next year, next decade, 100 years in the future, will those unmet generations be able to sit down and read a keepsake treasure about your life, the experiences you’ve longed to share, the history you witnessed, or the beauty and knowledge you’d impart if only they could be right here with you?

Back to the shiny rock. That diamond, like most precious things, was shaped and polished to bring out its beauty. So too with your story, your memories.

Do you see only a raw, grubby little ordinary rock?
Oh, my friends, I don’t!

I see what it can truly become and I want you to have the joy of experiencing that treasure for yourself.

While it’s true that only you have the raw material of memories, once they’re mined, there are many tools to help polish the beauty, remove the dross, and reveal the priceless keepsake hiding within.

Your story will be more intensely relevant and interesting to your family than any shiny rock, I promise you!

Contact me today for a free consult to find out how this experienced memory miner can help you begin your story mining journey. Let’s make sure your real family treasures, your stories, will be unearthed and polished so that they can be shared and honored as they deserve.

Karen

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Of Christmas Past

As we head into the Christmas season I want to share the first of several guest posts that will continue throughout 2022. My goal is to give you an outlet for sharing some of your family memories and encouraging others in their memoir and family history writing journeys. In my home, we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus and the wonderful gift he’s given us by having a weeks-long party with music, food, fun, and gift giving. We’ve cultivated our own traditions, blending memories from our own childhoods with the “new” ones we created with our own now-grown children over the years. We’ve also renewed our focus on the holy reason for this celebration. I love reading about others’ traditions and sharing the good memories that have drawn them together as families. Hope the following guest post from author Roslind Miles helps you remember joyful times in your own families. She is working on her Grandmother’s memoir. Thank you Roslind!:

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. The food, family visits, and eggnog are intoxicating. As a girl, my mother did everything she could to get us at least one thing from our lists. On most Christmases, she got us the number one thing on our lists plus new underclothes and pajamas. So it’s no surprise that when I had children I did the same thing, but even better.

My husband was amazed at how important it was to me to get everything on their lists. The children were allowed a list of five things in order of what they wanted the most. But our finances allowed me to get it all. And I filled their stockings with knick-knacks, as well as replenished their underclothes and pajamas! Needless to say, our Christmas tree was swamped with gifts! I gave my children the kind of Christmases I saw in movies. Or as close as possible. I mean, there were no gas-powered cars with bows in the driveway. But there were plenty of Hot Wheels!

On Christmas Eve we gathered around the tree with hot chocolate or eggnog and everyone would open one present. I always had to be sure that no one opened their main gift, the number one item from their list. My mom always spent the night on Christmas Eve too.

After the children were asleep, usually accomplished with a teaspoon of brandy in their eggnog, my husband, mom, and I would put out the best gifts without wrapping paper on them. No wrapping paper meant Santa himself visited our house! My children absolutely loved it!

I started cooking on Christmas Eve and made all the holiday favorites; ham, pot roast, candied yams, mac and cheese, greens. I baked peach cobbler and made icebox pie. I usually bought a couple of other pies like sweet potato and pecan pie. Dinner was always ready by Christmas morning! Plates were served all day!

And while the children are adults now, and have children of their own, the gifting has been scaled way down. My children are more frugal than I was. Thankfully. I smile as I say this because my grandchildren are much less materialistic and don’t expect much for Christmas. They really enjoy seeing me on the holiday. My children have made the holidays the best time for combining all sides of their families together for food, conversation, and hugs. Now we focus less on commercialism and more on love.
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You can find Roslind’s book Mommy Are We Rich? celebrating the importance of family on Amazon and connect with her via FaceBook at @RosNubianSunflowerMiles.

Ready to start sharing your family’s story? Connect with me today and let’s talk, I’d love to hear from you.

Karen

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Timely Transitions

Talk about transitions! And I don’t mean from your summer shorts to your long johns. No, I’m talking about real, life-changing ones. This is the state of the family email thread running with the transition theme back and forth across town and country between my three adult kids and us: new jobs, house selling, house hunting, more new jobs, navigating new cities, traveling, and connecting with far-away family.

Interspersed with all this are: crazy memes, cat pictures (we have 12 and 1 dog between all of us), requests for prayer, good book alerts, invites to watercolor or play games virtually,  “How do you do…?” questions, and just simple “I love you’s”. We love to rejoice in each other’s small and big successes, laugh over dumb stuff, grieve together when we’re sad, and support each other in all life’s changes. This is the stuff my family communications are made of! How about yours?

Our 21st-century families may communicate a little differently than our ancestors, but the same emotions and family concerns that our grandparents experienced remain. Letters and journals make terrific material for family histories.

Their pages somehow carry the voices of their writers in remarkably tangible ways.

Have you ever read a letter from a parent when they were young, or maybe a grandparent? You can almost hear them whisper down through the years. You can feel their presence and personality coming through to touch your heart and mind. It’s powerful stuff!

Even though my communication life is pretty digital, I’ve been making it a point to send more handwritten notes this year. It’s just something I want to do personally because it delights both me and the recipients. Sometimes these notes include everyday details, sometimes it’s thoughts about world happenings or an encouraging quote.

Try it: share a recipe, a memory of a good time spent with friends, something goofy the dog did, be a little transparent.

I even have a small booklet of floral postcards that can be colored (a gift from my daughter-in-law) that I color with a gorgeous set of artist’s pencils gifted by another daughter, then send snail mail to friends and family. I know- it’s my version of refrigerator art! But honestly, don’t you still love to get “real” mail? Me too, so I send some as well.

The same “feel good” moments that we get when reading a note from a friend or rereading old family letters can be shared with others in our family to strengthen, to give a sense of belonging and place.

I’ve worked with many people over the years and one constant is the letters. Without fail, both memoir and family history authors speak of the impact of letters, both on themselves and the family members who then read their work. They often include meaningful copies of several in their books. Some books are primarily letter-based and help to bring the voices of those who went before into the warm firelight of the family circle.

During these upcoming colder winter months consider spending a relaxing evening or two pulling together your collection of family journals, letters, even notes on paper scraps and napkins. I’ll bet you have a story there, hiding in those pages, silently calling to be shared.

Will you listen? Who might need to hear these voices?

Family history and memoir projects begin with simply gathering what you have. It doesn’t have to take long and is just a place to begin. Looking for creative ideas and direction? I’d love to visit with you and talk about your story. You can reach me at karen@rememberingthetime.net.
Wishing you the best!
Karen
 

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Please contact me for more information or to to schedule a free consultation. I look forward to visiting with you.






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    Karen Ray

    Address: 2877 Willow Creek Lane, Las Cruces, NM, 88007

    Phone: 575-323-1048


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