On Tuesday, September 27, 2016, the Friendship Connection #1 invited me to talk about how individual histories become part of all history at the Poinsettia Pavilion in Ventura, California. On a sweltering fall day, I shared my past experiences collecting oral histories for the Museum of Ventura County and presented excerpts from these interesting interviews. I also spoke about what an honor and privilege it was to help other people tell their stories in book form.
My own memoir, What Lies Within, grew out of these experiences. After all, if I could write others’ tales, why couldn’t I write my own? I did. But it took nearly ten years from when I began writing my book, a memoir of my early years, until it debuted in 2013. I squeezed it in between client projects and work for my professional organization, the Association of Personal Historians, Inc.
One project I began as a subcontractor in 2003 became my second longest writing achievement. A combination memoir/biography written by Horace Dade Ashton and Marc Ashton grew into a challenging series of tales that I helped tell. Based on recordings that the late Horace Ashton left behind and Marc Ashton’s story of his kidnapping in 2001, the book became The Spirit of Villarosa: A Father’s Extraordinary Adventures; A Son’s Challenge. This book was released on June 28, 2016, and I feel fortunate to have been part of this amazing true-life tale’s writing team.
I read excerpts from both books and answered questions about them and my life. Afterwards members purchased copies of the books, which I gladly signed.
Writing can be a lonely profession, so I really enjoy the opportunities I get to share my work by venturing out and speaking. It felt wonderful to be welcomed by such a warm, receptive audience.
My mother Ruth Berger was born 110 years ago today. It seems only fitting that I will address a women’s club to talk about What Lies Within, the book I wrote about my childhood as a tribute to my wonderful mother. (She was a very private person, and I’m not sure she would approve my tell-all story, but I think she might be proud.)
The Alhambra High School Class of 1966 held a joyful reunion last weekend, full of chance encounters, familiar faces, on-the-go conversations, heartfelt hugs, and promises to see each other sooner, thanks to the wonderful reunion committee who worked diligently to plan it. A tremendous thank you goes to Adele Cooke, Robin (Miller) Lambert, Kathi (O’Connor) Sarkin, Gloria Van Noy, Robin Zelenitz Grant, Laurie Brown Korpal, Darlene Heylek Nosworthy, Lana Wilson Machrone, and Linda Wilson Galluppi. This hardworking team made us all feel welcome to our blue-and-gold gathering where we celebrated 50 years since high school graduation. Most of us had no idea how much time and effort these women have given over the past two years as they produced priceless memories and a touching tribute to those no longer with us. Their efforts showed in every detail, and they are greatly appreciated.
I’ve always considered reunions to be intimidating, but this one was different. It was filled with fun. Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go home again.” Most of us realize that you can’t go back in time either, yet to some degree we did as we remembered and reminisced.
High school years are formative. Most teens are trying to find themselves. Many have problems of which others are unaware. This was especially true in the sixties, when we did not live in a tell-all society. I never realized others’ burdens until my 50th reunion, after many classmates mentioned reading my memoir, What Lies Within, and then shared their stories with me. Few of us had any idea about our classmates’ lives outside of school, and I found their revelations honest and sincere. Our common bonds revealed themselves in these shared moments.
One favorite phrase from the evening remains with me, as people viewed each other and said, “You look exactly the same.” What a great greeting to receive, especially after you’ve added fifty years to your life! But this was said time and again to several people, who I’d recognize anywhere. Yes, we’ve all experienced the joys and sorrows that come with being alive, and many have dealt with health problems that accompany growing older. Yet we discovered the joy of being together again as one class, and for that one evening we were ageless. For this glorious gathering, we can thank our reunion committee. They brought us together and made us one.
Thank you Adele, Robin, Kathi, Gloria, Laurie, Darlene, Lana, and Linda. You produced a warm, memorable event.
Alhambra High School’s class of 1966 gathers to celebrate its 50th reunion on Saturday. I will be there along with more than 100 classmates out of a class of 568 students. I won’t have to guess who people are thanks to the magic of social media. Through it many of us have been catching up on each other’s lives for quite a while. I do look forward to seeing old friends in person. A good chat is much more personal than digital communication. (more…)