Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Memorable stories are a wonderful gift

As an over-anxious, first-time author I’ve made the mistake of assuming that the "scheduled shipping date" as cast in stone! Not so.

My book, "My First 84 Years, Granny’s Notes" is slightly delayed. Instead of the scheduled "signing" at the Boone County Historical Society at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, I’ll be there helping people get started writing "notes" for their own families. Don’t we all wish some ancestor had done that for us? It’s easy, once you’ve started. One memory triggers several others.

Bob Priddy, well-known author of three volumes of "Across Our Wide Missouri," says, "The best history is in the life of the average person. It puts us in context for the time in which that person lived."

I’m thankful for the few notes I have from parents and relatives. Fire destroyed all of our family treasures but a relative gave me a letter that my dear Mom wrote in 1916. She told about our new 80-acre dairy farm that was a half-mile from the gravel road and the telephone line. She took Jim and me to the woods to watch Dad cut telephone poles to bring phone lines to our home; he later improved the half-mile driveway with gravel from our own creek.

One of my Grandma’s letters tells about her marriage to "Mr. Henry." Grandpa was older and was rearing three children after the death of his first wife. He was a Civil War veteran and lived to a ripe old age. On the back of a photo Grandma wrote, "This is Nancy’s and Lando’s home. We spent several days with them recently and got to ride in an automobile."

Your grandchildren may not know terms like "white owl" or "thunder mug." Say, "That means chamber pot" and they’ll ask, "What’s it for?"

Here are other questions youngsters ask:

P "What’s an ice house, Grandpa?" You’ll tell them what it was and where ice came from and how to put up ice.

P "Grandma, how did you keep the hen from biting you, when you played with her baby chickens?"

P "Why didn’t you call 911 when your house caught on fire?"

P "What did you play with when there weren’t batteries?"

P "What did they serve for your hot lunches at school?"

Wouldn’t you like to tell young people how to shock bundles of wheat or oats to keep water from ruining the grain? Then you’d tell them what a tiny amount of money the farmer gets for the grain in a $4 box of dry cereal!

They’d like to hear about the big meals on thrashing days and about men who knew how to stack hay with a pitchfork so it wouldn’t blow away in a storm. Maybe you remember when there were chains across roads and you had to pay to pass with your horse and buggy.

On Sunday I’ll be at the Boone County Historical Society building at 3801 Ponderosa Drive, discussing how to start writing family stories. Some won’t read the stories until after you’re gone, but they’ll read them and understand family history as they never understood it before.

Money can’t buy this wonderful Christmas gift and you can start it now, for your children and theirs.

The museum is just beyond the Nifong Home where you go to the annual Heritage Festival in September. Of course there’s no charge for the meeting. I hope you’ll bring three or four old snapshots and we’ll help each other get started writing stories from the past. Bring a notebook or at least some scratch paper for jotting down ideas lest they slip from your memory before you develop them into stories.

Hopefully we’ll know the shipping date of "My First 84 Years" by then.

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