Sunday, March 03, 2013

What Stories Would You Tell

The blog post from last night gave me food for thought today. Years ago when I recorded my grandmother, she talked freely for an hour about her life with my grandfather. When I asked her about how things were back during their youth, she reached for a tin of  Bruton Snuff she kept on a small end table next to her recliner, she tapped out what looked like tobacco dust into the lid, pinched her bottom lip away from her gum and emptied the snuff inside, before she began to talk.
The stories flowed effortlessly and without much thought. Some might have considered censoring the stories for grandkids, but she never did. I guess she was at a point in her life when it seemed silly to suger coat what happened. 
As she began to talk, she'd get a far-away look in her eye as if she were traveling back in time and recounting the stories in real time. It was mesmerizing.
Today I found myself wondering if I would be so eloquent in the "winter of my life." What stories would I tell? I feel like I've always thought that Jilda and I have done a fair share of living, but when you stand them beside the stories of our parents and grandparents, my stories seem a little thin by comparison.
Maybe the way we view the lives of our forefathers is skewed by progress. A few years ago the country was in dire straights financially, but even when the talking heads were saying we were headed down the toilet, I never worried about our next meal. That wasn't the case with my parents. 
I can remember when our black and white RCA television had to be slapped smartly on the side the get the picture to come on, but my mom and dad couldn't even afford a radio the first 15 years of their marriage. Kids today cannot fathom that.
So it stands to reason, our stories will be different. But with the march of time, and the speed of technology, maybe our stories will seem as rich as those told to us by our elders.
I'm not sure, but it's something to think about.


  1. Made think of the stories shared with me by my grandparents and parents. I tend to think their lives had more color and life. But maybe you are right ours will too to our children and grandchildren.
    Enjoyed this post very much. Very rich and gave me much to think upon. Thank you.

  2. I think you hit the nail on the head regarding the stories I'd tell. I'd talk about how much life has changed in a relatively short period of time. Things we never dreamed about are commonplace. I would also talk about the incredible joy I felt when my children were born and how much I love them as adults. And last, I think I'd talk about mental illness and the stigma that's still attached to it and the way it destroyed my marriage.


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  4. I think our generation in particular has experienced so many paradigm shifts that our stories will be interesting. We can remember black and white TV, polio vaccines, and manual typewriters, as well as iPhones, computers, and amazing medical strides. I think each generation has memories and thoughts to offer their descendants. My father finished writing his life story and my husband designed it (he is a graphic artist, and we had a couple hundred printed out. The writing is not great, but the stories of his boyhood and life experiences are fun to read, and rich with experience. Our stories will be the same - a glimpse into a world that is so very different from the present.

  5. Stories. My Mom would never tell me about her life before she met my Dad in 1943. She would never every talk about her childhood or youth. Her older sister gave me a few, very few peeks and that was it. The 20's and 30's were very tough for Mom in the uneducated, very terrible and dirt poor circumstances she was born into after WWI. WWI was vicious and the aftermath of mental breakdowns partly resulting I think, from the terrible flu of those times, destroyed families. A lot of abuse of many kinds occurred in the years following. A sad time for so many.

    Yet my Mom and Dad had a good hardworking life together and loved each other through all their life changes. Mom has Alzheimers and tells Dad every day she loves him and that is what keeps him carrying on I think. Stories. My Dad writes and blogs several times a month about his memories as he saw them. He is 92 1/2.

  6. I gave my Mom a book a few years ago that had specific questions that she could record the answers in. When she finished it she gave it back to me. It's a gift I'll always treasure and hope to put into print for family one day. She was a child of immigrant parents and she lived during the depression and thankfully is still with us. So many wonderful stories of determination and survival. My life is nowhere near the drama of my parents but it has a charm of it's own thanks to them. Everyone has a story. Blogging has showed me that!

  7. Bruton scotch snuff! Where may I get some?!! Sounds amazing - as amazing as your lovely grandmother! We should all have some of this snuff to unlock our inner souls!

    I'm not too sure about the technology these days - data stored in some magic place called the internet is not quite the same as a physical scrapbook but at least memories kept in one's soul remains constant!

    Take care

  8. What I am most interested in doing as I grow older is looking back and reading the things I wrote as a teenager. For instance, when I am an older man I wonder if I will even recognize the younger boy in my writings during my teenage years.

  9. My great grandma used to dip snuff- found a couple of the old jars hers used to come in and keep them still.

    It saddens me that we've lost so much of our oral tradition, but as long as succeeding generations will get their stories down somewhere, somehow, and least they will still be around for someone to enjoy. I hope.

  10. Lovely, thoughtful post. What stories will I tell? I think it's the 'little' stories which have the greatest impact...going swimming in the 'crick' with cousins and friends; the time I camped overnight on the family farm and had a buck stamping his feet at me in frustration when I'd accidentally scared off his ladylove. Could it have been my snoring? Nah, I don't snore, lol.

    The immense relief when then-President Nixon stopped the sending of troops to Vietnam just before my brother would have been sent over.

  11. Great post- I know that my story will pale in comparison to my own parents/grandparents. They had a hard scrabble life compared to us- went through meat and sugar rationing, etc.
    We had an old Philco black and white TV that we used to have to slap up the side to make it work, too, and often it would "roll". xo Diana

  12. I loved my Gramma stories. I could listen all day.Families have changed. We used to have our meals together Here it's go go go or every one goes into their room to watch their own program or Iphone.
    Kids don't look to parents like we used to We did a lot more chores, our kids expect us to do them. Every one and his Mother interferes in your family, tells you what you are allowed to do and what not. We never talked using the language they use today.The girls never behaved so badly as they do now. There is no modesty at all. No politeness on the streets and buses.You are too slow , well move over or I'll run you over. lol The word No means nothing to young people today. They have rights.
    No , we've lost big time. My only hope is that once kids have kids, they will remember and understand why we did what we did. We were raised with God but we don't raise our kids with him and they don't understand what this is.
    Laws will never to the same job as God. People don't fear them and lets face it, being bad is a lot more fun.
    But fun leads to tragedy. And so it goes.....

  13. A great post.

    I've only seen my grandfather using snuff and spitting in his spittoon... . Women never touched the stuff in our part of the country.

    I'm so lucky to have had a mother who journaled her memoirs after she finished raising her family of 17 kids. She went working full-time at a nursing home.

    She wrote her memories as they came to her. She had a great sense of humour and so her stories were never boring and so captivating. She portrait a different life style and strong values. She left us with a great legacy of her memoirs and how they coped with whatever life threw at them


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