06 May Got the COVID-19 Blues? Here’s A Project To Consider…
No, this post has nothing to do with politics. But here’s something that you or your family could do during these frustrating times that might mean more to your descendants than anything else you could leave them.
But first, some personal background.
I love history. But not just for the sake of learning dates and names. I love people’s stories. And the most interesting stories to me are the ones I learn from the people I meet. When I was 15, my best friend, Bradley Parker and I interviewed seven or eight elderly residents in my little community of Start. We were amateurs. Sometimes I interjected too much. Sometimes I changed the subject when difficult stories came up. But when I look back from time to time on those first interviews, they still fascinate me nearly 30 years later. And while they were just a summer project at the time, today those interviews are treasures for the families we gave a copy, many years later. It doesn’t have to be perfect. But ask the questions that will get your loved ones or friends to talk openly. All you need is a cell-phone nowadays to do the recording.
Start with the questions they may not know.
Ask your interviewee about their grandparents and great-grandparents—worry less about years and vague details. Just try and capture the stories they heard things about as children. What brought their families to the places they lived? What tragedies did they face? What were the most exciting things they remember as children? What was Christmas like? Were they religious? Or maybe scoundrels? All stories have value. As my grandfather told me when I was young, you can learn something from every person you meet.
Preserve what you capture.
Whether you email the finished product to other family members, share them on a family Facebook page, stick them on a USB drive and put them in the family safe, or even donate them to your local library, preservation is essential. If you need one last push to convince yourself or your kids to take on this project, just imagine this. What if you had an audio recording of your great-grandparents, talking about the Spanish Influenza of 1918. Or maybe even a recording where your grandparents talked about whether they were “Longs” or “Anti-Longs.” That’s a question I always loved asking. In my own family, I had both. Some liked them. Some didn’t. As one great-uncle put it, “we thought Huey Long was going to help the poor people, and he did, and that’s why we liked him.” But another great-uncle put it this way. “I went to hear Earl Long speak on the courthouse steps in Rayville. I was entertained but not impressed.”
My collection of stories.
For many years, it’s been a hobby of mine to blog about the stories of people who grew up in and around Richland Parish, where I grew up. It’s where all four of my grandparents grew up as well. If you’re interested, this is where I’ve put them — Luke’s Stories. That and many other neat finds are all archived here, at RichlandRoots.com. It’s a hobby that brings a lot of joy to me, and it’s a great family project to consider.