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Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Family Record

A Family Record

  • A growing number of people have decided to write a life story, autobiography, memoir or personal history. And more are thinking about it. But writing my life story was not a decision I arrived at overnight. Most of us don’t suddenly have an epiphany that our stories must be told. However, once you conclude it is important to preserve your story you are faced with a host of questions, such as how to get started, what the finished product will be, how much will it cost and who will do the work. ~ Tom Gilbert
One of my sons gave me an Apple iPad five years ago but not without a condition.  I was supposed to use it to write my life story.  My excuse had been that I didn’t spend enough time near a computer and I didn’t like working on a laptop (for whatever reason I hate the keyboard on a laptop).  My son explained and proved to me that my laptop keyboard is regulation size, comparable to my desktop keyboard.  However once my mind is made up I won’t be swayed.

Surprisingly enough, the iPad became an extension of my body, and I would write everywhere and anywhere, especially at bedtime for two to three hours.  I’ve written enough material for two books, and I hear that, it could be a good thing. 
My wife has pretty much convinced me to write two or three smaller books instead of one large one that even family members would be intimidated by.  Some family members have been given the opportunity to read a chapter here and there.  Even those closest to me are amazed at the depth of my life history and the history of my parents and grandparents.  I’ve had some of my own children say that they didn’t know as much about me and the family as they thought they knew.

Writing a book (biography) is very important for family value and sake.  Your life history as told from the first person perspective is something that no one else will be able to do once we (you become feeble - incapacitated).  You may think you don’t have the writing skills, but there are many people like me that would help you, and others that do it for money.

Your book doesn’t have to be a best seller quality.  To your family it could be as valuable as any legacy you can leave.  Even if your book ended up being more like a journal or short story.  Imagine a great grandchild getting his or her hands on your works many, many years down the road.  With today’s internet, you can even self-publish if you felt that a publishing company wouldn’t be interested in your project.  Keep in mind that you only need enough copies for your family, unless you feel that your book might have a wider reaching public interest. The best is yet to come……

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Family Transitions

1950's City Living

Family Transitions

My original upbringing was city type.  My father had a university education, and my mother was a stay at home mother.  I wasn’t able to judge if we were well-off or poor, but I know that I had everything I needed, and just about everything I wanted.  Then one day at the age of seven, my parents separated and eventually divorced.  My parents were so private with their lives where I was concerned that I never saw the separation coming.
Off to Texas

One day my mother packed our belongings (three of us: mother, sister - 7 years older than me, and me) and we moved to Texas leaving my father in California.  For four years my mother held as many as three jobs to make sure that we had a nice comfortable, and safe house in the best neighborhood she could afford.  So it was, that even after the separation all our needs and many of our wants were being met by the most wonderful and hard working mother that ever lived.

Four years after the divorce, and in order to be able to adopt a newborn baby girl, my mother remarried so that she could stay home and be a full time mother (a marriage that lasted just over 24 years).  The man that my mother married worked for the city water works, but moved us to the Pacific Northwest to pursue a job offer as a general foreman of a ten-thousand-acre farm that paid in one week what he earned in a month and a half working for the city.  My life changed once again overnight and I became a country boy that learned to work on the farm and in the open air.  Work was very hard and the hours were long, but it was the foundation of the hardworking man that I eventually became.
Plenty of fresh air

Who would imagine that something as basic as the mere act of performing the ritual of providing for your family’s existence (survival), could have such far reaching effects beyond the obvious.  In the fifties while living in Texas I knew many families that would leave their homes to travel around the country in search of work (migrant-agricultural work).  I knew this because many of my friends and their families would disappear from the neighborhood for months at a time.  Then one day I would be in school and out of the blue my friends would walk into the classroom, having just returned from their yearly travels following the migrant stream from state to state. While they owned their homes they were gone approximately 6 or more months out of the year.  They always returned back to base with plenty of money to carry them for the remainder of the year plus. 
Stoop Labor

Many of the children of those families would eventually grow up and settle down to raise a family in States where their parents (whole family) once visited as migrant workers.  Many of the young children of migrant workers that I had met in school, would grow up to be lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers, and first responders with the Fire Department, and various law enforcement jurisdictions.  Hard long hours on the agricultural fields was the foundation but education was the way out and up to an easier life.

Given the opportunity to progress out of migrant work, I can’t imagine anyone choosing one of the hardest ways that I know to make a living.  I know because somewhere along the way I experienced what it takes.  Believe me when I tell you that the very thought of doing that for a living into old age made me work harder on my school subjects.  Because I know first-hand what it takes to survive field work (agriculture), those people that have done it and those that are still doing it have my highest appreciation and respect.  The best is yet to come……

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Flipside

Information source (pre-internet)

The Flipside

I make no secret of the fact that I enjoy writing, make that love writing.  My very profile to this blog states it.  To my way of reasoning it would make sense that I also love reading on many different levels.  Once upon a time (70’s and 80’s) I used to subscribe to up to three different newspapers (all at once).  My biggest justification is that every newspaper from different parts of the country influences a news story with a slightly different perspective. 

Definitive favorites, there was the Wall Street Journal, Seattle Times, La Opinion (Spanish Language Los Angeles Paper), The San Jose Mercury.  Let’s not forget my favorite Magazines: Time, U.S News and World Reports, People, Consumer Reports, plus others (Playboy strictly for the articles).  The bottom line is that I simply couldn’t get enough knowledge about various current and world events, and social goings on (pre-internet). 

Amongst my book reading, here are some of my memorable readings: The Great Gatsby, MobyDick, 1984, Adventures of Huckleberry Fin, The Lord of the Rings, Don Quixote, and many more.  I especially appreciate good suspense authors like: Stephen King, Dean Koontz.

I’ve often thought what could be or might have been, if only some event or conversation in the past had not taken place.  However, being of very upbeat and positive attitude, I always see possible changes in history (outcomes) as ending with improvement.

As an example: if my mother had fixed my father a lunch that one fateful day in 1955, my father would not have had reason to walk into a small restaurant near his work, where he met a cute young waitress. My mother and father eventually divorced over my father’s involvement with the cute young waitress.  Or, perhaps if the waitress had missed her ride to work, or had the flu, my father would never had met the waitress.  In my mind the many scenarios of outcomes, all had different but happy endings.

I’ve never given a second thought at how life could have been different in a negative way.  Most recently I’ve read a novel that has started me thinking about possible negative outcomes. I am not convinced that this new exposure doesn’t bring out a negative (darker) side of me, that I didn’t realize dwelled in the recesses of my mind.  My next post, “A Kindle, Kind of Man,” will further explore this thought.  The best is yet to come…….