Memoir Writing Class
Several years ago a memoir writing class was offered at the Senior Citizen Center at Halls Crossroads. I had been trying to write about my past and needed someone to critique my efforts. I figured this would be a good place to start. I had no idea how much it would help. The classes met the first and third Tuesday of the month. Bob Farmer was the moderator. They ended when the class reduced in size because of deaths, relocations and other interests.
Each participant was to bring in a one or two page essay about something of interest in their past. The class would critique it on clarity of thought, grammar and punctuation. We did our best to help each other. The class was supposed to last one hour, but we got so caught up in the stories of our ancestors that it often went on for another hour.
There were many interesting incidents in our pasts. One woman told of Jesse James, a family member. It was different than what you read or see on TV. A man's second or third great grandfather was a horse trader before and during the Civil War. He bought and sold horses and mules from here to Mississippi and throughout the South. He told of what happened when the Northern Army came through with the wife and children home alone. Another woman wrote short stories for her grandchild. The stories were written for the future, that is, for grandchildren and great grandchildren. They didn't want their heritage to die with them.
We should be doing the same here in Union County. There is so much interesting history in these hills. It saddens me to read the obituaries of the passing elderly folk. Their history is dying with them. There is usually someone in the family interested in genealogy. They should be collecting the stories. Our culture has changed so much since the Civil War. The Little House on the Prairie series is an example. Do you remember a time without electricity? Write about it.
Was your ancestor a school teacher, a peace officer, a miller, a midwife or a blacksmith? What interesting lives they led! You know, memory is selective. Often details are missing that would paint a different picture of a situation, but the story is the thing. The only criteria is that no one's reputation be harmed by the tales. There are some funny stories that should be told. There are sad ones, too.
After Mr. Farmer left our group, I became the moderator. I would be glad to do it again here in Union County, that is, until someone is elected to do it. Meeting twice a month gives time to put a story together for the next session. We could meet in a public place like Hardee's. Everybody would be welcome. If it became like the class at Halls, people would come and go based on their interest and need. The best part is that we would be supporting each other. If you are interested, add your name and phone number at the end of this article and we'll see what develops.