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.

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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.

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Family – One Picture for a Thousand Words by Jennie Fitzkee


Welcome to another post from the archives of Jennie Fitzkee. Jennie has enjoyed a career as a pre-school teacher for over thirty years, and has some inspiring posts that reinforce that the ability to read and books, are two of the best gifts we can give our children.

In today’s post Jennie shares the connections that she was able to make between reading Little House on the Prairie and her own grandfather from a similar era and his experiences of mining. Living history is so important to record and to have a connection with someone born in the 1890s to learn first hand what life was like, especially if you can pass it on to a future generation… spanning the past and present…

One Picture for a Thousand Words by Jennie Fitzkee

image

Our final chapter reading book this year at school was Little House on the Prairie.  The last chapter that we read was ‘Fresh Water to Drink’.  Pa and his neighbor, Mr. Scott, were digging a well.  Pa was careful to lower a candle each day into the deep hole to make sure the air was safe.  Bad gas lives deep under the earth.  Mr. Scott thought the candle was ‘foolishness’, and began digging without sending the candle down into the well.  The rest of the chapter was an edge-of-your-seat nail biter.

I love this chapter.  So did the children.  I realized I could connect what happened down in that well to something real; a portrait of my grandfather as a little boy wearing miner’s gear, including a candle on his helmet.  My grandfather and his father had mines in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  I grew up with their stories and photographs, including this portrait.

I brought it to school the next day to show the children.  “This is my grandfather”, I said.  “He went deep under the earth, just like Pa and Mr. Scott.  What is that on his head?”  Children couldn’t sit.  They jumped up, pressed against me and each other, all wanting a closer look.  “That’s fire!” someone said.  “No, it’s a candle” said Owen.  “A candle is fire.” said Miles.  “What did he do?”  Ah, those wonderful, spontaneous questions that spark the best learning.  This was ‘a moment’, fifteen children eager to hear more and learn.

I told them about mining, going underground, and about the candle.  I then showed them the Garth Williams illustrations in the chapter ‘Fresh Water to Drink’, with Ma and Pa turning the handle of the windlass to get Mr. Scott out of the well, and Pa digging the hole that is as deep as he is tall.  We talked about how hard that would be.  We imagined what it would be like inside the hole:  Dark or light?  Hot or cold?  Then someone asked, “How old is your grandfather?”

I was connecting generations and connecting learning.

I’m in mid-life, where I have a strong, real link with the past and also the present.  My one arm can reach and touch my parents from before 1920 and my grandparents from the 1880’s and 1890’s   They were just here ‘some years ago’.  My other arm can reach and touch my children and grandchildren, and all the preschoolers I teach.

I find this mind boggling; I’m equally part of the past, a long line of family history, and part of the present, teaching children and learning.  I want to connect all the lines.  I want people to know that I was there with Nan who was born in The 1880’s, and with Lulu who was born ten years later.  I want people to know that I understand life from that point forward.

More importantly, I want my preschoolers to have a firsthand piece of history.  It is a ‘real’ way to enhance learning.  That happened with my Grandfather’s portrait.

©Jennie Fitzkee

About Jennie Fitzkee

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It’s the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That’s what I write about.

I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease’s bestselling book, “The Read-Aloud Handbook” because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.

Connect to Jennie

Blog: https://jenniefitzkee.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennie.fitzkee
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jlfatgcs

My thanks to Jennie for sharing this post from her archives and it would be great if you could share how far your personal connection to your family stretches in each direction.

My parents were born in 1916 and 1917 and I met my grandmother who was born in 1890 the youngest in my own family is 12 years old so that is span of 129 years of living history.

If you would like to share your stories about family, including our fur babies.. then please take a look at the details.

Posts from Your Archives and the theme this time is all about family.

  1. Personal memories of childhood or teens that are still fresh in your mind.
  2. Family history, stories of your parents, grandparents and further back if you can.
  3. Fur family past and present.
  4. Favourite recipes.
  5. Memorable holidays.
  6. Places you have lived.
  7. Memorable homes you have lived in.
  8. Grandchildren tales.
  9. Any family related post – education, health, teen years, elderly care, lifestyle.
  10. Please remember that there are some younger readers who visit.

I think you get the idea.

The aim of this series is to showcase your blog and any creative work that you do from books, art, photography and crafts. You pick between one and four links to posts that you have written for your own blog from the day you started up to December 2018, and you simply send the link to those blogs to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

You have to do nothing more as I will capture the post and images from your blog and I will then post with full copyright to you.. with your creative work and your links to buy and to connect. I might sometimes need a little more information but I am quite resourceful in finding out everything I need.

So far in the Posts from Your Archives from September 2017, there have been over 700 posts from 200 + bloggers that have reached a different audience and encouraged more readers for their own blogs and current posts.

Previous participants are more than welcome