Tuesday, March 01, 2011

My Place on the Timeline

I've always been fascinated by history, as you know if you're one of my long-time readers. The world we live in today has been shaped by the people and events that came before, and it's always fascinating to me to look back at those people and events and think about what actually happened at that time. The two-dimensional figures we read about in the pages of history books were at one time real, living, breathing people who did all the mundane things you and I do every day ... but which we never think about. We all have a mental picture of George Washington heroically crossing the Delaware ...

... but we never think about George Washington going to the bathroom or trying to remember where the #$@! he left his glasses.

Historical figures were real people, once. Or, as my mother once said in this context, even Hitler had a mommy.

I got to thinking about this whole topic of places in history when I read this article yesterday: Last US World War I Veteran Frank W. Buckles Dies At 110.

Mr Buckles was the last known survivor of the estimated five million men who served in the US Army during the First World War in 1917-18, and was known not only for his longevity, but for his self-effacing good humor. He said not long ago, "I knew there'd be only one [survivor of WWI] someday, (but) I didn't think it would be me." One of his friends said that Mr Buckles "was a history book in and of himself, the kind you can't get at the library.

I think it's fascinating to reflect that I was born just six years after the end of World War II, and less than 100 years after the end of the Civil War. I had an uncle who was a genuine frontier cowboy, a father who survived World War II as a crewman on a B-24 bomber, and a grandmother who told stories of washing the family's sheep by driving them into a Hungarian river. In 1979, I was rescued by two burly Air Force security policemen from a drunken engineer who was choking me because I couldn't tell him who would reimburse him for all the expensive tools that Iranian revolutionaries had stolen from him before his evacuation from that turbulent land.

We all have stories to tell, even if we don't think of them at the time as being particularly interesting or historical.

One of my long-term projects is an attempt to document the history of our family, and the stories we all have to tell...the stories that will remind our children and grandchildren that they come from generations who represent an unbroken line of history stretching back into the dim mists of time.

Document your own history, and your own stories. Someday, wide-eyed grandchildren will sit on your lap and realize that that old geezer really is an interesting fellow, after all.

Have a good day. Write it all down.

More thoughts tomorrow.



KKTSews said...

For those who don't know where to start, buy a book like "The Grandparent book: a keepsake journal" or equivalent. These prompt you to document your stories by topic/age. A great way to get started in telling your stories. Bilbo, I know you don't need this, but your readers might.

Amanda said...

So far, I've never thought of myself telling stories to grandchildren but I suppose that is a possibility some day. I hope I will have something interesting to say.....

John said...

Before my wife's grandmother died (many years ago), Chris sent her a cassette recorder (I told you it was many years ago) and a stack of blank tapes.
At Chris' request, each night her grandmother would record stories from her past; some were from her childhood, some from her adult life. When she passed away there were several hours of stories.
If you listened closely, you could tell that life was hard--but you had to listen. To her, it wasn't hard; it was just life.

Mike said...

I'm going to start doing that one of these days.

KathyA said...

George Washington never went to the bathroom. That's why he always looks so pained.

Why was he choking you? What happened to him?

Had never thought about leaving a history...hmmmm