Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – Failed Novel, Anyone? 2017 by Elizabeth Gauffreau


This is the first post from the archives of author Elizabeth Gauffreau who has some wonderful posts, including an interesting look at her genealogy journey, seeking out her family history. This post will strike a chord with many who have, like me got a drawer where previous creative ideas lie waiting for rejuvenation…

 Failed Novel, Anyone? 2017 by Elizabeth Gauffreau

When I went to college to learn the craft of fiction, the prevailing attitude was that the short story was a stepping stone to the novel. The short story was where the young writer could serve out her clumsy apprenticeship in the sandbox making mud pies until sufficiently skilled to create the multi-tiered cake of the novel which people would actually buy. Chekov, Joyce, and other masters of the short story aside, you could never arrive as a writer of fiction unless you published a novel.

Then I heard Raymond Carver read at Old Dominion University’s annual literary festival. Not only was “Feathers” unlike any story I had ever read, Raymond Carver was not a novelist. He was a living, breathing master of the short story. His short stories were so powerful he didn’t need to write novels.

But still, I wanted to write a novel. The first one I attempted was actually an abortive novel, rather than a failed novel. Damage Control told the story of the breakup of a marriage from alternating points of view: the young, shell-shocked wife and her equally troubled young husband. The narrative pretty much collapsed under its own weight, and I gave up on the whole thing. I subsequently tried to get control of it by paring it down into a novella, but it never gained any traction, and I gave up on that version, too.

Years later, I think the problem with Damage Control was that I didn’t have the skill as a writer to sustain a book-length narrative, and I didn’t have the life experience to pull off the husband’s point of view. Who knows? Maybe now I do.

My next attempt at a novel was driven in part by the desire to focus on writing a book, which would take longer to finish, send out, and get rejected than a short story. (Hey, I’m just being honest here.) This novel went through a series of pretentiously lame titles that I won’t repeat here. (I don’t want to be that honest.) I did complete the novel, and I didn’t give up on it for a very long time.

When the light finally dawned, I realized that the whole was less than the sum of its parts because of an episodic structure that includes a series of vignettes triggered by old photographs. The main character is an elderly woman who has disposed of all her furniture and household goods to move to an assisted living facility. She then refuses to leave her house until she has sorted through all of the personal effects of family members who had passed on before her.

The basic conflict seemed like a compelling idea, but, again, I didn’t have the skill to sustain a book-length narrative, particularly a book-length narrative of someone who is by herself for the majority of the novel’s ongoing time. Then there were all those random dead relatives who kept popping up for no apparent reason, other than once having had their pictures taken.

In the final analysis, the parts weren’t all bad, as six of the chapters from this failed novel have been published as stand-alone stories

©Elizabeth Gauffreau

About Telling Sonny

Forty-six-year-old FABY GAUTHIER keeps an abandoned family photograph album in her bottom bureau drawer. Also abandoned is a composition book of vaudeville show reviews, which she wrote when she was nineteen and Slim White, America’s self-proclaimed Favorite Hoofer (given name, LOUIS KITTELL), decided to take her along when he played the Small Time before thinking better of it four months later and sending her back home to Vermont on the train. Two weeks before the son she had with Louis is to be married, Faby learns that Louis has been killed in a single-car accident, an apparent suicide. Her first thought is that here is one more broken promise: Louis accepted SONNY’s invitation to the wedding readily, even enthusiastically, giving every assurance that he would be there, and now he wouldn’t be coming. An even greater indignity than the broken promise is that Louis’s family did not bother to notify Faby of his death until a week after the funeral took place. She doesn’t know how she can bring herself to tell Sonny he mattered so little in his father’s life he wasn’t even asked to his funeral…

One of the recent reviews for the book

Every family has secrets, old feuds and disagreements, but not many have a past like Faby’s. Telling Sonny, by Elizabeth Gauffreau, is a novel of inter-generational memories and a past that embodies every little boy’s dream—running away to join the circus. Only in this case it was a carnival and a 19-year-old girl. The reader is quickly and easily drawn into the wonders of the old carnival world as Faby travels with Louis, who has taken her under his wing and into his bed, only to discard her several months later. The past comes to light after Faby, now the mother of a son about to marry, receives a phone call from her former sister-in-law, telling her that Louis has died in a single-car accident. Louis had promised to come to Sonny’s wedding, even though he’d spent a lifetime of ignoring his firstborn son.

Faby considers his apparent suicide just another of Louis’ broken promises. How can she tell Sonny that his father’s family thought so little of him, they didn’t even bother to let him no his father had died, or that the funeral had already been held? This novel shines a light on a time that most of us would never even dream of…traveling with a carnival in the twenties and seeing first hand the underbelly of that world. Plus, the wonder in the eyes of beholding exotic exhibits for the first time. What will now-conventional Faby, who works for the telephone company and has dinner every Saturday with her sister, tell her son about her old life? Will she ever forgive Louis? And will Sonny finally see Louis beyond the charming exterior he’s occasionally beheld?

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Telling-Sonny-novel-Elizabeth-Gauffreau-ebook/dp/B07NRV2GJ7

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Telling-Sonny-novel-Elizabeth-Gauffreau-ebook/dp/B07NRV2GJ7

Read the reviews and follow Elizabeth on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18740495.Elizabeth_Gauffreau

About Elizabeth Gauffreau

Elizabeth Gauffreau holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Her fiction publications include short stories in Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Long Story, Soundings East, Ad Hoc Monadnock, Rio Grande Review, Blueline, Slow Trains, Hospital Drive, and Serving House Journal, among others. Her poetry has appeared in The Writing On The Wall, The Larcom Review, and Natural Bridge.

Liz grew up a child of the 1960s in northern New England before spending twenty years in the South as a Navy wife. After working for Granite State College in Concord, New Hampshire for eighteen years, she recently accepted a faculty position as Assistant Dean of Curriculum and Assessment at Champlain College Online in Burlington, Vermont. In addition to academic advising, teaching, and higher education administration, her professional background includes assessment of prior experiential learning for college credit.

Much of Liz’s fiction is inspired by her family history, and lately she has developed an interest in writing about her family’s genealogy. Learn about her attempts to stick to the facts of her family history at http://genealogylizgauffreau.com. Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband; their daughter has flown the nest to live in sunny California.

Connect to Elizabeth

Website: http://lizgauffreau.com
Family History: http://genealogylizgauffreau.com.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/liz.gauffreau
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LGauffreau

My thanks to Liz for permitting me to share posts from her archives and I encourage you to check both sites yourselves.. Your comments are always welcome… thanks Sally

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck – Nonfiction Essay with Bonus | 7 Tips for Preserving Family Memories 2014 by Sherrey Meyer


Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

This is the third post from the archives of writer Sherrey Meyer whose blog is titled Life in the Slow Lane. This week I have chosen a post about the preservation of family history, much of which is divulged in conversations with elderly members of the family. It is so important to discover and save this living hisory.

Nonfiction Essay with Bonus | 7 Tips for Preserving Family Memories 2014 by Sherrey Meyer

Today I am sharing with you a recent experience which started my husband and me thinking. Thinking about family, memories, storytelling, and how to share that history with the next generation. On the Meyer side of our family, the work is somewhat up-to-date. But who will carry the torch after our generation is gone? Our generation is slipping away slowly one by one. What about your family history?

She isn’t the sister I knew,” my husband says when he returns from driving his sister, Mary Ellen, home after lunch.

I don’t know what to say. I understand what his words mean. I still don’t know what to say.

This is the second sibling I have heard him make this comment about, the other a brother who died almost two years ago.

“As long as you can remember the good times, the days in Outlook, Mary Ellen seems to have good recall.” Words I use to encourage him.

In fact, it happened over lunch.

When Bob arrived to pick Mary Ellen up and bring her to our home, she asked her now routine question, “Have you been here before?

And the answer is always yes as one of us visits weekly, if not more. Since her assisted living community is only eight blocks away, we often make it our daily walk to visit.

But her short-term memory has lost its bearings.

We visit for a time, and then lunch calls us. It is our first time to sit with only the three of us around the table. Mary Ellen’s husband died a couple of months ago, and her move near us and a nephew is relatively recent.

We join hands for grace. Her skin has the feel of thin paper, and her hands are cold. It’s in the upper 80s outside.

We chat amiably while eating. Mary Ellen jokes about her unreliable memory, and we commiserate that our collective memories aren’t much better some days.

Bob recalls receiving an invitation recently from their grade school in Outlook, WA, a tiny space in the road in the Yakima Valley. He mentions the name of the woman who sent it and with whom he has talked. He asks Mary Ellen if she remembers Dorothy Cullen from their grade school days.

She looks up and furrows her brow. Finally, she says she doesn’t, her now nearly gone eyesight trying to focus on him.

And then she says, “Oh, there was a Dorothy Ross in Outlook.

Yes, this was the woman Bob was talking about but he had used her married name since he couldn’t think of her maiden name.

That recalled memory is from decades ago, but our visits with Mary Ellen recently have only been in the last two months. She doesn’t remember us visiting or others calling or coming by. She doesn’t remember her husband is dead.

We sit later that day talking about family and memories. Bob and I know with certainty that we too are growing older daily, and our memories aren’t always as sharp as they used to be.

Mary Ellen is the oldest of the six Meyer siblings and the genealogist in the family. She has researched, traveled, and visited with family members all over New England and the Midwest. Her travels include trips to cemeteries, old schools and churches, and the family history we have is amazing.

Not only that, Mary Ellen, a retired school teacher, is among the best storytellers in the family. Up until now, her mind was never faulty on a single detail about farm life, grade school teachers, preachers in the country church, music lessons, and life in tiny Outlook, WA.

But this record keeper and researcher is nearly blind, her mind is failing, and she turns 90 in a few weeks. Who will take up the torch and tread the course in keeping the family history and the stories moving generation to generation?

We haven’t been the best stewards of the Meyer history. At least the record of the Meyer clan is in many hands now, thanks to the Internet. But will it continue to spread as our family continues to grow?

We encourage our children to slow down, make treasured memories, memories that will last, and to write them down for future generations to read and share on and on. And we ask them to make sure they label photos on their Smartphones and computers with names, dates, places so someone will know a bit of the story held in the images decades from now.

Otherwise, a family’s legacy can be lost in time and age. 

A few tips readily came to mind in keeping the family history alive as Bob and I talked:

  1. Take advantage of every family gathering by encouraging time for storytelling and sharing experiences and have someone take notes.
  2. Make sure you keep up a family record of births, deaths, and weddings. This information will be helpful to whoever is in charge of maintaining the family genealogy.
  3. Mark photos with names, dates, places, occasions, and any other information benefit recall. Stories can be written from photos as the images are great triggers for recall and memory.
  4. Take advantage of state and county records in researching family records.
  5. Sites now exist that are also helpful in researching family Ancestry.com helped me uncover information on my father’s family; with three children tragically ending up in an orphanage in the early 1900s, I had almost given up hope of finding anything. Other genealogical sites include US GenWeb ,   US National Archives  Genealogy TodayUS Census Records  Ellis Island Records, and  Family Search (large database sponsored by the Mormon Church).
  6. When a family member passes on, and if you are able to do so, hang on to every slip of paper you might find among the individual’s effects. Recently, a search of the unemployment records in Nashville, TN for the years 1944-45 helped me confirm some information about my parents. I had found discharge slips issued to my parents from the same employer on the same date among my mother’s effects. But something just didn’t seem right. I checked and found I could get access to certain information about their unemployment. And I was right — my father’s service terminated a month after my mother’s.
  7. And lastly, I know that Mary Ellen was not shy about writing letters to people who had a similar last name and lived in an area where other family members had once lived, or who might have arrived at Ellis Island with ancestors, and these contacts provided the information she might not have uncovered otherwise.

It is never too late to begin tracking your family’s history. Whether you think you are a writer or not, you can write stories in a journal, on your computer, in a notebook, or by any method you choose.

Then pass what you have on to the next generation by sharing it with them from time to time so questions can be asked and answered. Leave it somewhere so when you are no longer around, it will be easily found and handed off to a family member.

This post isn’t intended to be about doom and gloom, but last Thursday’s lunch brought out the importance of what would happen to the Meyer family history now that Mary Ellen is no longer able to be the keeper of the work she so lovingly provided for us.

The tips here are some used in my research and gathered in talking with Mary Ellen over the years. I wanted to share this personal time in our life to provide, I hope, a clear picture of the importance of storytelling in the present.

©Sherrey Meyer 2014

About Sherrey Meyer

Sherrey Meyer, Blog Owner, Writer

Hi! I’m Sherrey, and I am a writer. I haven’t always been a writer but managed at all times to pursue my love of words through reading and writing. Sometimes I get so carried away with my love of words I also proofread and beta read for other writers.

I grew up the middle child but it doesn’t seem to have caused any difficulty in carrying out my roles as a wife, mother, grandma, and great-grandma. When opportunity provides, you’ll find me writing or reading. I love words!

My current work-in-progress is a memoir, the story of a Southern matriarch and how she ruled the roost with not so pleasant methods. On occasion, I have been lucky and written essays that actually were accepted for publication in anthologies.

My writing and proofreading experience reaches back to near age 12 when my publisher and printer father decided he needed some part-time help on several large government projects. He trained me to proofread and edit, and on weekends and during school holidays I had my own mini-office in my bedroom dedicated to my efforts.

Daddy was the source of my love of words. Words have always fascinated me, but life has inserted itself along the way. Now a retired legal secretary, where I used these skills, I now enjoy the time to focus on my passion for writing.

Connect to Sherrey

Blog: https://sherreymeyer.com/about/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sherrey_Meyer
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SherreyMeyerWriter/
Published Work:https://sherreymeyer.com/published-work/writing-samples-published-works/

My thanks to Sherrey for permitting me to delve into her archives and share with you.. Please head over and enjoy browsing them yourselves. Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Potluck #Family History – 5 Ways to Excavate Memories 2015 by Sherrey Meyer


Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

This is the first post from the archives of writer Sherrey Meyer whose blog is titled Life in the Slow Lane. If you are planning on tracing your family history or bringing together research for a memoir, I am sure you will find this post very helpful.

Family History – 5 Ways to Excavate Memories 2015 by Sherrey Meyer

Archaeologists reach fame, and sometimes fortune, in excavating historical sites. Sometimes their finds are unexpected. Other times they rumors point to the place where an Egyptian pharaoh’s tomb might be located. Often they decide to dig near a historic site “just because.”

Via John Atherton on Flickr

Via John Atherton on Flickr

Memoirists are akin to archaeologists in the way they mine their memories for the right facts and stories to include in their memoirs. Many people have amazing minds catalogued similarly to a library catalog, even into separate rooms for certain memories. Unfortunately, my memory and/or mind is not so neatly organized. How about yours?

Even with the painful history I’m working from in writing my memoir, sometimes I need help in excavating memories which will make for fact-based, truthful, and interesting reading.

He was still too young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.”~ Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Following are some tips for making your memory work easier:

  1. Look at old photographs. Images evoke memories of special occasions, celebrations, growth, changes. Remember the picture in your high school yearbook taken by the professional photographer? Did it really look like you? What are your memories of that day? The possibilities for good flash memoir, a chapter in your book, or a blog post can be found in a stack of old black-and-whites.
  2. Items passed down through the family. We are in the process of downsizing and getting rid of many years of accumulation. And yet we also continue to receive family items, most recently a rocking chair in which husband Bob’s grandfather always sat. That rocking chair sits silently in our family room, but generates great conversation as Bob shares his memories of life on the farm and his grandpa in that chair. What item of furniture or family history do you have that brings back memories?
  3. What about smells? For me, certain aromas or smells evoke memories of my mother’s kitchen. Mama was a Southern cook to the core with meals consisting of more than could be eaten. But oh, the wonderful aromas as opened the front door after school! Husband Bob uses the aftershave my dad did, and its smell brings back early morning memories of Dad preparing for work. Or the smell of newsprint brings Dad right into the room with me. Is there an aroma that reminds you of someone or something?
  4. Language, dialect, and regional idioms. Growing up in the South, we called every carbonated beverage in the store or gas station “Coke.” Fast forward to 1983, we move to Oregon where the regional nomenclature for carbonated beverages is “pop.” There isn’t a distinct dialect in the Pacific NW so for a time I would stand out in groups because of my Southern drawl. It could make for some embarrassing incidents, and I quickly moved to tame my tongue.The uniqueness of language, dialect, and regional idioms are excellent memory triggers.
  5. Music of a certain period. Music is a powerful tool in evoking memories. Think of a particular song you’ve listened to for decades. Perhaps from your teens, your early years of marriage, or maybe a lullaby sung to you as a child. I remember well the song, “Glow Worm.” A recital piece in my early musical career. I worked hard to use correct fingering, keep the rhythm exact, and incorporate all the dynamics. I’ll never forget that song, or the dress my mother made for that recital, or the smile my dad give me as I took my bow, or the pride I felt in my accomplishment. What song or piece of music brings back memories for you?

As you work on your book or a short piece of memoir, perhaps one or more of these tips will be useful to you in digging up the memories you want to share.

 Would you like to share another method you may use in your writing to evoke memories in the comments below… Thanks Sherrey.

©Sherrey Meyer 2015

About Sherrey Meyer

Sherrey Meyer, Blog Owner, Writer

Hi! I’m Sherrey, and I am a writer. I haven’t always been a writer but managed at all times to pursue my love of words through reading and writing. Sometimes I get so carried away with my love of words I also proofread and beta read for other writers.

I grew up the middle child but it doesn’t seem to have caused any difficulty in carrying out my roles as a wife, mother, grandma, and great-grandma. When opportunity provides, you’ll find me writing or reading. I love words!

My current work-in-progress is a memoir, the story of a Southern matriarch and how she ruled the roost with not so pleasant methods. On occasion, I have been lucky and written essays that actually were accepted for publication in anthologies.

My writing and proofreading experience reaches back to near age 12 when my publisher and printer father decided he needed some part-time help on several large government projects. He trained me to proofread and edit, and on weekends and during school holidays I had my own mini-office in my bedroom dedicated to my efforts.

Daddy was the source of my love of words. Words have always fascinated me, but life has inserted itself along the way. Now a retired legal secretary, where I used these skills, I now enjoy the time to focus on my passion for writing.

Connect to Sherrey

Blog: https://sherreymeyer.com/about/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sherrey_Meyer
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SherreyMeyerWriter/
Published Work:https://sherreymeyer.com/published-work/writing-samples-published-works/

My thanks to Sherrey for permitting me to delve into her archives and share with you.. Please head over and enjoy browsing them yourselves. Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives #PotLuck – Family Stories. My cousin, Joan Molet, and his efforts to not allow the memories to disappear by Olga Nunez Miret


Welcome to the series  Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

I am delighted to share a series of four posts from the blogs of Olga Nunez Miret, author and translator who I can highly recommend. For her second post I have selected one from her WordPress blog from 2015 which is the story of two of her mother’s uncles who died during World War II and her cousin Joan who had made it his mission to research there story to uncover the events and the truth. Very poignant…

Family Stories. My cousin, Joan Molet, and his efforts to not allow the memories to disappear.

Those of you who have been following my blog longer might remember that I have dedicated posts with the title ‘Family Stories’ to two of my mother’s uncles, Josep and Conrado Miret, who died during WWII, one in Mauthausen (in one of the satellite camps, Floridsdorf), and the other one who had disappeared in France and they suspected had been killed there whilst fighting for the French resistance.

Josep Miret who was Conseller of the Generalitat (the equivalent to a Minister of the Autonomic Government of Catalonia) has a street in Barcelona named after him and some of the letters he had sent to his relatives (in particular those he had sent to his younger sister, Magdalena) appeared in the book Els Catalans als camps de concentració nazis (Catalans in the Nazi concentration camps) by Montserrat Roig. But…

IMG_0780

My cousin, Joan Molet, has been researching the story of these two men for the last few years, and has offered me the opportunity of keeping you up to date with events and new findings he made. When I was preparing a new post on the subject, I thought that you could be interested in the process he had followed and how he had become involved in what is now his mission. I surely find it fascinating. And that was how I went to visit Joan and took many notes. Here I bring you my take on it.

Joan Molet dando una charla en una escuela. Al fondo, una foto de Conrado Miret

Joan Molet talking at a school. Projected we can see a picture of Conrado Miret

Joan told me that he began researching the history of these two relatives because his grandmother (Francisca Miret, Paquita) had told him some things about her two brothers, there were some (few) objects and items from their period before they left Spain during the Civil War, but there was a void of information about what had happened afterwards, both during their stay in France and in the concentration camp (in the case of Josep) with few details and paucity of documentation. And, Conrado was still classed a missing since the 1940s. Joan decided to investigate and try to fill this void. He started his search in early 2012, three years ago.

To achieve that he tried a variety of approaches.

1) He visited his relatives. That was how we came into contact with each other, as although my grandmother, Juana, had died years ago, Joan went to visit my mother (another Magdalena, it’s a very popular name in the family, although she prefers to be called Magda) to ask her if she had any documentation of the era, but apart from some photographs, we didn’t have much else. When we talked I suggested I could share some posts about his work and his findings in my blog, and he has kindly kept me informed. Thanks Joan! Not all our relatives have taken part or are interested in the matter (as we know, family stories are very personal)

2) He requested information from official sources and archives. Among others:

  • Archivos Generales de Ávila (General Archives of Ávila): where the military papers are kept. Officially they have no documentation. (Considering Josep Miret was head of supplies of the Republican Army in the Ebro Front, it’s a bit weird, but…)
  • Archivo de Salamanca (Archive of Salamanca). They sent him a few documents.
    The Pabillion of the Republic in la Vall d’Hebrón de Barcelona. He obtained some information about the PSUC (Partit Socialista Unificat de Catalunya, a communist nationalist Catalan party) and his relationship with the party.
  • Central Archives of Catalonia (St. Cugat). It contains several personal collections of researchers and authors interested in the topic (Eduard Pons Prades, Montserrat Roig… including a postcard Josep sent from the camp.)
  • The International Red Cross (who sent him a copy of the death certificate for Josep Miret in Floridsdorf, where he was injured during an allied attack and killed off by one of the guards).
    He also researched the family tree, including visiting the archive of the Archbishopry of Tarragone and others, and he managed to recover information up to the end of the XVIII c. (when the French troops burned what they found on their way).
  • As both brothers were exiled in France (Josep left before they closed the border with his own paper, whilst Conrado escaped using a false identity and was for a while at Saint Cyprien) my cousin imagined there must be documentation in France, but he didn’t know how it might be organised or where to go. But at this point he got very useful help. He got into contact with:

3)La Amical de Mauthausen. This organisation that has been functioning since 1962 and at the beginning helped the survivors of the camp to obtain help and subventions, has widened its activities, and it is now part of the red ‘Never Again’ to ensure the memory of what happened is never forgotten and to carry on fighting against fascism, and they organise/facilitate informative sessions in schools, organisations… They also do research work and send proposals to organise official homages and commemorative events, and help relatives locate information about their loved ones, be it giving by them any data they possess or assisting them with their personal searches. Here I leave you a link for you to check their activities in more detail. (The information is available in several languages, including Spanish, English and French).

With their help and his effort, Joan found out plenty of information that was very useful, like the fact that the archives and information about the activities or the résistance are organised according to areas (Josep had been in the French Bretagne, in Caen).

His enquiries made him cross paths with L’Amical des Anciens Guérrilleros Espagnols en France (AGEEF-FFI) (the Amical of the old Spanish guerrilleros in France), who as a reply to his questions about Josep, asked him in turn if he was not interested in finding information about Conrado. Thanks to this contact and to the interest he showed, Joan has atended several commemorative events in France (in Prayols there is a monument to the guerrilleros) and even recently in Spain, for example, the 22 November 2014, in remembrance of the 70th anniversary of the last retreat of the republican forces during the Battle of the Ebro. (Here a link to a video about the event.)

4) Thanks to his activities, his interest and effort, Joan has become a member of the Junta (Board) of the Amical in Barcelona (since 2013), he represents the Miret family in acts related to the Republican fighters and the Spanish guerrilleros, and recently has become the representative of the Amical at CIIMER (Centre for the Interpretation and Research of the Memory of Republican Spain, Centro de la Interpretación y la Investigación de la Memoria de la España Republicana). As it sometimes happens, in searching for our roots we might discover an interest and a new dedication to a cause.

Joan gave me many details of his journey (tortuous and hard), he showed me documents, some of interest to everybody (official documents, transcripts of the trials), others much more personal (like the envelop of a letter Josep had sent to Joan’s grandmother, addressed to a house Joan still remembered), and I hope I’ll be able to share some more with you and carry on brining you news. (Some, like the commemorative plaque to honour Conrado, that I felt was particularly emotional, I’ve already shared). But for me, there were two moments that felt particularly representative of the experience.

In 2012 Joan joined a number of internet chats about WWII as possible sources of information. Through them he was contacted by Claude Midon, a Frenchman who has now lived in Australia for a long time. His wife, Madeleine (another Magdalena), is the daughter of Josep Miret and Lili Brumerhurst, and they have not only been in contact since, but Madeleine visited Barcelona and met Joan last year, and she was able to join in the ceremony of inauguration of the plaque to Conrado in June 2014.

Madeleine Midon, Joan Molet i foto de Conrado Miret

Madeleine Midon, Joan Molet and photo of Conrado Miret

In May 2012, Joan visited for the first time the camp Mauthausen-Gusen. (At Floridsdorf, of the camp there is only a commemorative plaque left. Joan was sent a picture of it by the president of the Association of the descendants of the Spanish combatants in Austria, whilst completing his research.). As part of their activities, the Amical also organises annual visits to Mauthausen (including a visit to the Castle of Hartheim, that they used for “active euthanasia”, and where they experimented the most effective way to exterminate parts of the populations, Jews in particular). This May (2015), is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the camp that will be celebrated with a number of acts and I hope to be able to bring you Joan’s impressions of the events. I also hope to visit the camp myself in the future and tell you what I felt.El Castillo de Hartheim

Castle of Hartheim

What impressed him or touched him most of the visit? The truth is everything. More than anything, how easy it was to imagine being there, being one of those men and thinking of their experiences.

Mauthausen

Mauthausen

Also, the historical incongruences (like the fact that the main building of the Gusen camp is now used by a business company, without any external changes other than very limited cosmetic changes). The fact that one can enjoy a piece of cake at a cafeteria in Mauthausen…Dins del camp

Climbing the steps to the quarry and thinking of the prisoners the guards made jump to their deaths still carrying their load, just for the fun of it.

Dins del camp

Climb to the quarry

Camino a la pedrera

The human spirit, that’s never defeated.

And his pride for being related to these men who fought to ensure that the world didn’t become a much worse place. I share some of the pictures he sent me of that trip. Not many words are needed.

crematori

crematorium

Placa

Memoriam

Many thanks to Joan for offering me so generously his time, telling me his experiences and being so generous in sharing his documentation, thanks to all of you for reading, and I would love to have your feedback.

©Images Olga Nunez Miret 2015

I think you would agree that this is an amazing story of courage and tragedy and so important that Joan and others share their research and bring closure to families who might never know the what happened to the lost during this appalling time in history. My thanks to Olga for permitting me access to her archives.

A selection of books in Spanish or English by Olga Nunez Miret

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One of the recent reviews for Deadly Quotes

This is Book 3 in the captivating Mary Miller series where Mary gets involved with fellow doctor and pathologist Leah Deakin to solve the mysterious new serial killings case of Deadly Quotes.The author Nunez-Miret uses her expert knowledge as a real life psychiatrist to bring to life in her investigative characters and pulls it off perfectly – like watching a real-life crime drama.

We are engrossed in this tale of murder where the suspect is already in jail. This is an intriguing start to the story which progresses with the discoveries of some new dead bodies and only quotes left behind on the corpses’ computers, taken from a book written by a serial killer still in jail. The investigation keeps us glued to wanting to know the facts as much as the investigators do and keeps us wondering if the killer in jail is responsible for these killings or could it possibly be a copycat killer.

I’m not about to give out spoilers here, but if you love a good mystery with well written investigative story, you will love this book as well as the others in this series. These Mary Miller mysteries are all standalone reads, so don’t feel like you have to have read the others, although well worth the reads, to keep up with the mysteries.

Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/author/olganm

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Olga-Núñez-Miret/e/B009UC58G0

Read more reviews and follow Olga on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6562510.Olga_N_ez_Miret

Audio books http://authortranslatorolga.com/my-audiobooks/

About Olga Nunez Miret

Olga Núñez Miret is a doctor, a psychiatrist, a student (of American Literature, with a Doctorate and all to prove the point, of Criminology, and of books and people in general), she writes, translates (English-Spanish and vice-versa) and although born in Barcelona, Spain, has lived in the UK for many years. She’s always loved books and is thrilled at the prospect of helping good stories reach more readers all around the world. She publishes a bilingual blog (http://www.authortranslatorolga.com ) where she shares book reviews, advice, talks about books (hers and others) and about things she discovers and enjoys.

Olga has translated her own books into Spanish of course and she has also translated some excellent Spanish books into English and you can find out more here. http://www.authortranslatorolga.com/translationstraducciones/

Follow Olga onSocial Media

Website –http://www.olganm.com/
Blog- http://authortranslatorolga.com/
Facebook –https://www.facebook.com/OlgaNunezMiret
Twitter- https://twitter.com/OlgaNM7

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will head over and enjoy other posts in Olga’s archives. Thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – Whose story is it anyway by Norah Colvin


This is the second post from the archives of  educator and storyteller Norah Colvin and this week Norah shares her own experiences of telling real stories about family to young children, not just their immediate family but passing on living history about those relatives we have met but the younger generation may not have.

Whose story is it anyway by Norah Colvin

Nor and Bec reading
Children love stories. They love being read stories and beg for them to be read, over and over again.

Equally as much, if not more, they love being told stories, especially stories of their own lives. They beg for them to be told over and over, listening attentively and with wonder as their own stories (her story and his story) are being revealed. They commit these tales to memory so that eventually it is difficult to distinguish the genuine experiential memory from the telling. Even as adults they seem to not tire of hearing tales of the cute things they did when they were little, or of shared experiences.

They also love being told stories of their parents’ lives. These are the stories that help define them and their existence: how they came to be. The stories tell of times gone by, and of how things used to be. They marvel that their parents were once children and try to imagine how that might have been.

My daughter would often ask for stories about herself, her brother, myself or other family members. One day when she was about six, she asked again, ‘Tell me a story about when you were a little girl.’ Before I could respond she jumped in with, ‘What were the dinosaurs like?’ She was teasing, of course, and her comedic timing was perfect. A story was created, one that has been shared many times.

History is a story, though at school I never saw it as such. Had it been a story of lives, as its name implies, I may have been interested. But history at school was a list of wars and dates, and kings and queens to be memorised and regurgitated for a test at the end of the term. There was no story, no human emotion, no semblance to any narrative that may have lured me in.

I hope that today’s students of history are not required to commit sterile lists of facts to memory without the stories that would give them meaning and significance, some human element to help the information stick.

History, as a subject, had always been relegated to high school. It was not a discrete part of the primary school curriculum, though aspects were explored in other subject areas such as ‘Social Studies’ when I was at school, or more recently ‘Studies of Society and Environment’. With the introduction of the new Australian Curriculum,  History is now a stand-alone subject.

As an early childhood teacher I was a bit terrified that young children would be required to memorise lists of seemingly random facts and dates. I’m pleased to say that, for the early years anyway, this is not so. Children in the early years start by exploring their own history and the history of their family, considering similarities and differences between their lives, the lives of their parents, and of their friends.

I applaud this as an excellent starting point. I believe, when working with children, connections must always be made with their lives and what they know. What better starting point than investigating the traditions of their own family and culture.

In Australia, as I am sure it is in many other places, a great diversity of cultures is represented in each classroom. Encouraging children to share similarities and differences of traditions with their classmates helps to develop understanding of each other’s traditions and beliefs, which in turn fosters respect and empathy. For this purpose, I developed some materials to make it easy for children to share their traditions. These are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

 

 

Mem Fox has written a beautiful picture book Whoever you are that I love to share with children when discussing their cultures and traditions. It explains in a simple and beautiful way that although children around the world may live in different houses, wear different clothes, eat different foods, for example ‘inside, their hearts are just like yours.’ Mem Fox explains the story on her website.

I also like to sing I am Freedom’s Child by Bill Martin Jr.; and in Australia we have a great song that tells about our different beginnings, I am, you are, we are Australian by Bruce Woodley.

What got me thinking about history in particular for this post is the flash fiction prompt posted by Charli Mills at Carrot Ranch Communications. Charli’s challenge is to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that considers history, near or far.

This is my contribution

washing 1949

Washing day

Her freckled, calloused hands were red and chaffed as they gripped the wooden stick and stirred Monday’s sheets in the large copper pot heating over burning blocks of wood.

The children played in the dirt nearby, scratching like chickens, hopeful of an interesting find.

The dirt embedded under her torn and splitting fingernails began to ease away in the warm sudsy water as she heaved the sodden sheets and plopped them onto the wooden mangles.

The children fought to turn the handle, smearing dirty handprints on the sheets.

She sighed, and hung them over the line. One chore done.
©Norah Colvin

About Norah Colvin

I am an experienced and passionate educator. I teach. I write. I create.

I have spent almost all my life thinking and learning about thinking and learning.

I have been involved in many educational roles, both in and out of formal schooling situations, always combining my love of teaching and writing by creating original materials to support children’s learning.

Now as I step away from the classroom again, I embark upon my latest iteration: sharing my thoughts about education by challenging what exists while asking what could be; and inviting early childhood educators to support children’s learning through use of my original teaching materials which are now available on my website http://www.readilearn.com.au

Connect to Norah via her websites

Website: www.NorahColvin.com
Website: www.readilearn.com.au

And social media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NorahColvin
Twitter 2:  https://twitter.com/readilearn
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008724879054
Readilearn:  https://www.facebook.com/readilearnteachingresources/
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/norah-colvin-14578777

My thanks to Norah for reminding us how important it is to pass on this living history from generation to generation. I know she would be delighted to hear your experiences about learning family history and comments. Thanks Sally.