The LifeStory Institute
The writer's workshop for memoirists, autobiographers and family historians.
Founded in 1991 as a how-to newsletter/magazine, LifeStory, and also as an over-the-road workshop
travelling North America teaching and coaching new and longtime writers of all ages how to write about
their lives and the lives of their ancestors.  The premise is that everyone can, and probably should, write
their life story to pass on to their family,friends,and others interested, including and perhaps especially,  
historians.
All material on this website unless otherwise indicated is Copyright 2014 by The LifeStory Institute.
BAKED FRESH THIS MORNING!

Posted 0600 Wed Aug 27 2014

Now this is something from my new book,
Narrative Journaling: 28 days to writing more
or less happily for the rest of your life:


SUMMARY

Mom was born March 5, 1909 in West Point, Kentucky  on the banks of the Ohio River
and just a few miles southwest of Louisville.  Her mother was Lizzie Lee Knight and her
father was Lewis Clinton Isaacs.  She had two brothers  (one of whom died in
childhood) and one sister.  She was the youngest child.  She probably attended
schools  in nearby Elizabethtown and Louisville, but at some point the family moved to
Indianapolis, Indiana, where she finished high school and worked in a small factory and
then met my father.  She was almost 25 when she married my father, a medical doctor,  
on January 6, 1934.  They had three children.  They lived in Indianapolis, then in North
Dakota and Kansas and, briefly, in Texas until her husband was sent overseas with the
US Army in 1942.  During that time, the War years, she took their two young sons and
lived in Indiana, where she bought a house and took in her parents also.  Her mother
died in 1944.  In 1948 her last child and only daughter was born.  In 1950, her father
died.  She was a housewife and mother in Manhattan, Kansas.  Her husband died in
1983.  She lived alone until she died on March 4, 1997, one day before her 88th
birthday.  She is buried alongside her husband in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery in the
Deep Creek Community near Manhattan.

SCENE  

    Mom lit another cigarette and blew the match out with a long blue plume of smoke.  
She tossed the match into the ashtray on the desk as she leaned over and said,
“Hutch,” I think we’re going to have to compress things a little.”  Ray Hutchins, the chief
architect, put down his pencil and looked at her with a raised eyebrow.  “Kempy?” he
said with a smile.  “Kempy,” Mom said.  “He just about killed me when he saw the
contractor’s estimate.”    “I’m not surprised,” Hutch said, puffing on his pipe.  Mom
nodded.  “I think we can do some  things to economize, Lil,” he went on.  “But you’re not
going to like them.”  “Let’s see what I won’t like,” Mom laughed, and the two put their
heads together over the drawing of the house plan in front of them.  ###

Now I ask you, gentle reader, which is truer--the summary or the scene?  I ask you to
consider, or reconsider, your understanding of just what history is. Of course this is my
mom, not yours, so you have no way of knowing, but I can assure you that the
Summary is accurate.  The Scene, I can assure you tells a lot about my mother's
character and style, and probably is more or less true to the way she and the chief
architect of her greatest building project worked together in designing the family home
at 232 Pine Drive in Manhattan, Kansas in 1951.  I ask you to consider in writing your
own personal and family history, how much inventing can you do?  



Posted 0530, Tu., Aug. 26, 2014

This is from my Ancient Journal:

Tu., Jan. 6, 2004
Mom and Dad were married 70 years ago today, January 6, 1934.  They were married in front of a wicket at an office in City Hall.  “I now pronounce you man and wife that’ll be
$3” was the way Mom always put it.  I can imagine the event going something like this…

“Where the hell is it?”  Dad laughed, running up the steps, pulling Mom along.  Mom, strikingly pretty at 24, laughed too, but complained:  “Kem-py, you’re hurting me.  What’s
your hurry?”

“It’s cold.  That’s my hurry.   And I’ve got to be at the hospital by 6.”

And then they plunged into the marble foyer and long cold corridors of the City Hall of Indianapolis, Indiana.  They ran until they found the sign that said Marriage Licenses,
went in, and then there they were standing in front of an iron wicket with a bored bald man on the other side.  When it was ascertained and duly recorded that he was Charles
R. Kempthorne born in Platteville, Wisconsin January 7, 1903, and she was Lillian Mae Isaacs born in West Point, Kentucky March 5, 1909, that he was employed as a
physician and surgeon at the University of Indiana Hospital and that she was employed as a--well, a  helper she guessed at the Swing Tag Company and then she started to
explain just what she did the official merely nodded and said, “That’ll do,” and wrote something down in his book before he said, “Raise your right hands,” and then rattled off
the rest of the required words, ending with “That’ll be three dollars, please,”  and then Kempy and Lil were off, she back to a girl friends’ and he off to the hospital, and perhaps
later to a party with all their friends in somebody’s basement, drinking toasts of bathtub gin made with alcohol one of the other doctors had caged from the hospital, and maybe
someone had baked a cake, and then they went home to her parents’ and thence, to their nearly fifty-year-life together in North Dakota, Wisconsin and Kansas.

Well, maybe it
was something like that.  


Posted 0530 am Mon., August 24, 2014

I wrote this in my journal in 1982. If there is anything that vindicates my life, it's writing like this.  

 I’m watching my handsome 7 year old son outside the window.  He was playing in the sandpile, but now he’s
chasing something--a snake?  (He’s looking in the bushes by the garden fence) a bird?  (he’s running zigzag, looking
up, his hands outstretched) --god only knows.  But it’s fun watching him, my beautiful son in his new deep blue (his
favorite color, I think) hooded sweatshirt which he has worn steadily (including, I think, to bed) since he got it
yesterday.
He’s upstairs now.  It was a butterfly that he was chasing--of course.  And, after telling me about his high score in
Pitfall, he now sits down and listens to a punk rock song on the stereo, “Nobody Takes Me Seriously Any

Honestly.  That alone justifies my existence, I believe. If you have children, write about them.  If you don't have any of
your own, write about the ones you know.  ###



I started my Journal over fifty years ago, when I was 26.  I wish I had started it when I was born.  That's not an
unreasonable expectation, is it?  
Okay, Charley, you're born. You've had enough colostrum.  Now start writing things
down.

The thing is, there is so much to say.  My experience has shaped me into a unique human being.  No one who ever
lived before me was like me and no one who lives after will be like me.  I am utterly unique, as unique in the cast of my
mind as my thumbprint is to my body.  

Yesterday, ugh!

In the afternoon I slept a lot.  It was hot and I had gotten up extremely early and worked on the book, the endless book
that I am swearing to finish this week.  Then when we came back from our meeting and shopping in town (a bag of cat
food from Aldi's for our ravenous cats) June and I took one look at one another, closed all the windows and turned on
the AC and crashed.  I slept.  I dreamed but did not write them down.  Everyone should be issued a personal attendant
to stand by as we sleep and write down what we tell them about our dreams when we waken, so that they don't get lost.

Life just isn't fair, is it?

I woke in the evening, worked a few hours on the book and went back to bed a little after midnight.   






Sat., August 23, 2014

A SLICE OF MY LIFE, Sat., August 23, 1997 (from my Ancient Journal)

The interview I did a couple of weeks ago with Richard Baker at KKSU here in Manhattan was the best I've ever
given.  I was really sharp and Richard used every laugh line.  But of course being KKSU I didn't get any mention of
how to get the mag or the book.  I'll use the tape to market myself as a radio columnist or interviewee, though, and I'll
get a lot of hay out of it somehow.

And I'll have to ask Richard if he'd ever ask an academic historian if he's living in the past, as he did me--suggesting
to me that people who write family histories live in the past.
-
Diane came out with one of her young boys, a kid of 24 named Aaron, who was raised in Germany.  I've met him
before, he's fun, sort of.  They came upstairs and he was hot to do something on the computer.  I practically had to
pull him away.  He's used to working in public offices where computers are not one's private desk.
-
Three deer in the garden this morning at dawn when I got up.  They stared at me, a big doe mother and two fawns.  
Who are you?  they seemed to ask.  I shouted Get out of my garden! and they stared on.  I clapped my hands, and
then they turned and ran for the gate.  They were hanging around a squash plant.  Maybe they're eating the
blossoms...is that why so few fruit have set on?  Would they eat blossoms?
-
There's already a touch of autumn in the air.

I print this because it's 17 years ago exactly and it's a Saturday, just like today.  More to the point, what Richard Baker
asked me about living in the past (because I was so intensely interested in personal history) is funny and symptomatic
of those times.  I wish I had asked him if he'd ever interviewed a professor of (say) Medieval history and asked him that
question.  Of course I'm sure he never did, and never would have even thought of such a question, or it might have
been couched in a less patronizing manner, as in, say,
In your scholarly pursuits in the Middle Ages, do you ever find
that the world then is more interesting to you than the world now?  

To answer the question (I don't know what the answer I made on air was, and I've long since loaned out the tape of the
program and never got it back), I would say, No, I do not live in the past.  I would quote William Faulkner, the novelist,
who in his Nobel Prize address said, "The past isn't over.  It isn't even past."  ###

A Slice of My Life, ca. 1968

                                        In Memory of Ray Whearty, wherever he may be.

Ray looked worn and tired.
What's wrong, I said.  I was sitting at my desk, grading themes.
God, everything, Ray said.  He dropped his briefcase on the floor with a thud and sat down in his swivel chair.  He put
his head in his hands.  Ray was only 30--same age as me--but he looked suddenly very old.  "I quit," he said.
I laughed.  "Oh, I know what this is about."
Ray look up, his blue eyes flickering like lights going out, not looking at me, not wanting to note what I said.  "You won't
believe this one."
What one?  I tilted back my chair and put my feet on the desk.
"Ummmm," Ray said.  "You know that story of Hemingway's about Krebs, the soldier from Kansas?"
Sure, Soldier's Home.
Ray nodded.  Yeah.
Great story.
Uh-huh. Sure is.  Well, anyway, it's Friday, three in the afternoon and I thought I'd give my students in Comp 1 a special
treat.."
And so you read them the story?  I laughed heartily.
It's my favorite story.  It's a great story.
Oh, it is.  It is.
I read it straight through and everyone was very attentive.  When I finished no one said anything.  
Okay, I said.
Then this kid in the back who's never said a goddamned word all semester--Ray underscored the word with a gesture
of his fingers--held up his hand.
Yeah.
I mean, I was really expecting something.
Okay, so?
So the kid said, Uh, Mr. Whearty, will this be on the exam?
I laughed.  Ray laughed, but ruefully.  He looked about ready to cry.  I couldn't help it, I laughed and laughed.  If I didn't
laugh, maybe I'd cry too.  
Come on, Ray, I said.  I'm buying. ###

Thursday, August 21, 2014

We pulled into the lot at HyVee.  “Do you want to come in?” I said to June.   “No.  I’ll just sit here.” “What do you
want?”  “Oh, some of those eggrolls maybe.”  

So I went in and ordered her three eggrolls.  The pretty girl with the constant smile had red hair like June’s, peeking out
from her paper chef cap waited on me.   “Samantha S.” her tag read.   She asked, “Chicken or pork?”  “Oh, chicken,” I
said.  “She likes the chicken ones."  I somehow was proud to let her know I was getting them for my wife.  An old man
doing something for his wife.  Maybe I wanted her to know that someday when she’s an old lady an old man will wait on
her for once.  It made me feel good.  It made me smile too as I thanked her.  

Then I went to the Produce and I bought a peach.  I saw green grapes still on sale, so I bought a bag of them.  On the
way home June ate the eggrolls and I ate grapes, one after another, so that when we got home I had eaten probably a
pound of grapes, at least.





Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We  never get tired, do we, of remembering how low prices used to be.  Even twenty-somethings will lament the high cost of whatever it is they spend their money on
compared to what whatever it was they used to spend their money on was.  

I remember five cent candy bars, five cent pop, five cent phone calls.  I’m a five cent guy.  I remember when we bent over to pick up a penny.  Now if you do that it’s because you’
re collecting antiques.  

No matter how hardened you are, and no matter how up you are on changes in the economy, it just kind of takes your breath away when you get a nickel soda and a candy bar
and a bag of peanuts to put in the bottle of pop so you can shake it up and spray it into your mouth as we used to—and you take all this over to the counter and reach in our
pocket for your quarter to cover it all with a little change besides and instead you reach for your credit card because it runs $8.75.  

Okay, we can keep in mind that in 1952 we worked for a quarter and hour and thought it was pretty good money.  We remember when there was one “convenience grocery” in
nearly every town of 10,000 or more, and it was open from 6 am to 10 pm.  We keep that in mind but that $8.75 price tag just stuns you.  

In fact, a good case can be made that this sort of thing is one of the leading causes of heart attacks in the elderly.  The only thing that keeps that statistic from bursting through
the roof is that the cost of a heart attack is much, much higher than it used to be. ###

Mon., August 18, 2014

I think I’ll re-enlist in the Navy.  If I could go in at my old rate of Yeoman First Class and the pay would be pretty good, free medical care, and plenty of food and those nice wool
clothes…and a pretty white hat.  And a peacoat!  I’d like a ship out of New York.  Put me in the ship’s office, of course, and put something in front of me to type.  

Sigh.

If I had stayed in the Navy I would probably now be an Admiral and I would have 59 years in and I would have a large cabin office and bedroom and my own bathroom
somewhere just aft of the flying bridge.  I would have an aide nearby waiting to attend to my every whim.  

Instead here I am in this ancient farmhouse tucked away in the folds of the hills of Eastern Kansas, a thousand miles from the sea.  There are two ponds, Bad Pond and Good
Pond, but both are dry now and I do not have even a small boat, let alone a ship of twenty thousand tons and up.  

Life is very long.  Maybe something will happen to restore me to my ancient glory.  ###

Sun., August 17, 2014

When you’re not willing to write, when you are as I am this morning—pissed off in advance of the day about the day’s prospects or the lack of them, not willing even to think,
wanting only to hide, hide, hide—go to the bottom of the dark sea and shut off all your engines and just sit there—when that is what you want with all your body and soul, then
what do you do?

You write because you know your life depends on it.  You become willing to become willing to become willing.  


And so ou write because you know you’ll get in the mood, in the swing of it, that it’s like going to a party.  It’s 6 pm and you’ve been invited out.  You wish you’d said no, but you
didn’t.  You’re still at home.  You could call.  You could feign a heart attack.  

Or you could just not show up.  You could go down to that bottom of the sea you love so much and shut off all your engines.  But…you get up.  Step 1, you sprinkle some water
on your face.   Step 2, you get out of the old sweaty clothes and put on the new ones in the closet—or maybe you have to pick them out of the dryer.  You’re dressed.  You’re
moving a little faster now.  But in traffic on the way to the party, you seethe with hatred at everyone on the road, and you hope various people you hate will not be there.  

You get there, walk in, start talking, and there you are.  In a few minutes you are happy and laughing and doing the work of being a living human being.

So it is with writing.  You begin when you don’t feel like it because you know you will feel like it after awhile, and you’ll do some of your best work, maybe.  Or maybe not.  But
you will have lived to write another day.  ###

Fri., August 15, 2014

It’s Friday and I’m in a bad mood and I should be in a good mood.  It’s Friday, it’s a nice day—maybe a little rain later on but that’s good—everything is
okay, at least.  

Tonight, June and I could go out and spend some time with friends.  

We could have a quiet and lovely dinner here of fresh green beans and new potatoes.  

We could watch a movie, something good.  (I’m sick of vampire movies—what is it these days about vampires and zombies?—so I could drop by the library and pick up an old
movie we’d enjoy.)  

Then we could call one or more of our kids or grandkids, and go quietly to bed to read something enjoyable, and then fall into a contented and refreshing sleep.  

Life is good, isn't it?

But wait—someone is whispering in my ear that…it’s coming to me, slowly but surely, it’s coming to me…just a minute here…ah, here it comes:

                                                    EVERYTHING IS BAD AND NOTHING IS GOOD!
                                                    EVERYTHING IS BAD AND NOTHING IS GOOD!
 And, finally,
                                                   EVERYTHING IS BAD AND NOTHING IS GOOD!  

Yes, let the Negatives out to dance!  As the late great George Carlin said,
They say positive thinking is good for you.  But I don’t think it’d work for me.  


Thu., August 14, 2014

I wake up more or less rested this morning, though not very happy.  I’m still working on the book and I hate my life now, mostly because I’m working on things (the book, the
road trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin)  that will improve my life.  There’s nothing I dislike more than having some success.  Isn’t that strange?  
Strange, yes, but not illogical.  If you feel deep down  you don’t deserve success—for whatever reasons or non-reasons, then you will hate taking steps toward getting it, and
getting it will positively freak you out.  Most of the time I’m able to avoid getting it by working steadily at it but failure, luckily, comes my way even so, usually a case of too little too
late.
Failure is comfortable as the proverbial old shoe; success is a change and can bring explosive and  unexpected results, anxieties undreamed of, even unnightmared of.  “Turn
back!  Turn back! There’s blood on the track!”  
-
I juxtapose with that a memory this morning of a morning long ago when I was a mere lad of 50 something and I phoned a lady in Florida about the workshop I was going to do
there, and her husband answered the phone.  “Good morning!” he sang into the phone.  And he meant it.  For my part, I wondered what he was drinking.  That’s where I came
from.  Now, every chance I get, I answer the phone with a cheer.  And so I say to you, from wherever I came from in the darkest night, this beautiful morning is the day that the
Lord hath made, and I say into it:  Good morning!   
Wed., August 13, 2014

I remember coming into Milwaukee on a crawling train, high on a trestle over the bustling city, the conductor walked  through the cars shouting MIL-waukee!  MIL-waukee!  

My brother and I looked at one another and grabbed our little bags.  It was the summer of 1953, I think.  I was just 15, and Hal was 18 going on 19.  We had wheedled our
parents about the boredom and imposition of having to live at home in a luxurious fifteen room mansion and having our every whim taken care of until they said, Okay, go out in
the wide world and see how you like it!  

And so we did.  I guess we picked Milwaukee because it was a big city, and that was what we wanted to try our luck in, and it was in Wisconsin, our ancestral home.  I think we
must have been surprised that our parents agreed to it and signed on.  

And so we got off the train and confronted the world, seven hundred miles from home.

MILW-WAU-KEE!  MIL-WAU-KEE!  

Tu., August 12, 2014

Today my son Dan is 46.  I’ve written about the afternoon of his birth in Iowa City in 1968, and the context: a terrible time in American history, the year of political turmoil and
assassinations, Robert Kennedy having been slain just a few days before.  I was depressed about the world Dan was coming into.  But he came to parents who genuinely
wanted him, all that summer one of the happiest times of our life together as we strolled about Iowa City pregnant and pleased to be there.  For once I wasn’t working except at
writing.  I had been admitted to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and I finally felt like a pro.  I was just 30 years old.  

My brother is now 80 and a few days.  Our father lived to be 80 and four months.  I am now 76 and a little over a half a year. No question, every day we are all getting older.   
Methuselah lived to be 969 years old, according to the Bible.  When I was a boy of 10 or so I read that in a very famous book of Bible stories by one Elsie E. Egermeier, which
was the be the only religious literature I ever read until I got into graduate school many years later and had to read some of the Bible if only to understand 17th Century English
poetry.  I didn’t attend Sunday School more than half a dozen times in my entire life, and from 0 on went to church maybe a dozen times.  It just wasn’t part of our life. One time I
surely went though I don’t remember it was when I was baptized at the age of five.  My parents, new in town, thought it might help Dad’s budding medical practice.   But  I do not
think a single one of my six children was baptized, though one of them probably was later in life.  

And later in life I came to believe in God, came to believe that I’d always believed in God in a way, sometimes ardently, though never specifically a Christian.  “We aren’t
anything,” we used to tell friends.  “We’re just happily heathen.”  

In recovery a few years ago from all manner of emotional and spiritual problems, I had been encouraged to believe in a “Higher Power” so that I wouldn’t have to struggle with
controlling my life anymore.  But the term Higher Power I wasn’t comfortable with.  I was trying to quit drinking and Higher Power sounded like a drink, something you might go
into a bar and order.  “Hey, gimme a bottle of Higher Power, will you?”  So I wandered around in my intellectual innards and came across the word God.  I could just call God
God.  But wait, I thought, then everybody will think I’m just like they are!  And then the Duh moment came and I realized that that was just what I wanted.  After a lifetime of trying
unhappily to be special and off in a category all by myself, I wanted to be just like everyone else.  I wanted to be ordinary.  I wanted people to think I was just like them:  happy to
be here.

And so I am.
-
Mon., August 11, 2014

This is from my Ancient Journal,

24 Feb 1964
I have decided to be a writer.  I will it, thus: I am a writer.  Now--by definition if for no other reason, writers are distinguished chiefly by the fact that they write.   I must
write--two hours a day until I finish school.  That's reasonable, and proper. Hopefully it will be more, but at least this notebook will be a daily progress report of my
writing.  This helps make my apprenticeship a more deliberate affair, and helps also to keep my sometimes drooping eyes firmly fixed on my goal: to write the way I
want to,  to get a story "right," to get it in tune with myself.

With this bit of bombast I threw down the gauntlet and declared my intention to “be a writer” and, far more important, to live up to that definition by actually writing.  That year I
wrote a mere 1,712 words (averaging a big five words a day, obviously working at it nothing like two hours a day) but I had a
Journal and I wrote in it—in longhand, in fact.  The
following year, 1965, I increased my output to all of 9,455 words, and the year after that, five years later (1970), I was up to nearly thirty thousand.   Through the seventies I wrote
less but I kept at it, my time used up by the hard physical work of being a farmer and housepainter—and raising children and restoring a house and farm.  That was the
decade when I said to myself and anybody who would listen, “I feel like a workhorse,” and I went to sleep six feet from the bed I fell into.  

By 1986, 48 years old, driven by desperation and fear at the fact that I wasn’t “really” a writer, and by the fact that one evening in  a Sears store shopping with my wife and kids
for clothes for the kids, I  fell out of line and looked at a display of a word processor.  I had never seen one.  After fiddling with it for half an hour, I took out my spiffy new charge
card and sprung for a Brother Word Processor.  I took it home and by the end of the year I had written (processed?) something like 155,000 words!  I was writing every day 500
words or more  and loving  it.  I had arrived.  

Sun., August 10, 2014

I wrote this May 24, 1976, when I was 38 years old:

If we could eliminate the concepts of blame, fault, sin, guilt, etc., from our minds, what would this new world be like?  And most of all, the concept of free will.  I am what I
choose to be.  I am what I am.  Whether I am what I am because I so chose, or because of forces I had no control over (do I have control over my forces?) is an
impossible question.  It cannot be answered, can it?  

Even if it could be answered, what then?  Would life be enhanced?  Scientists are not the only ones who do things because they can be done rather than because they
need to be done.  If we could develop a potato that was hard as a rock, would we grow them and starve?  If we could develop a harmful idea, would we?

I don’t think this is profound or anything, in fact it seems now a bit naive and stupid but  I just like the concept of growing a rock-hard potato.  Maybe we could flavor it in (say)
blueberry and we could lick it.  There you go: a potato on a stick that you can lick (I can see the advertising working), it won’t make you sick, and if you don’t like it…you know
where you can it stick.  
-
I write that in the spirit of what the late great Winston Churchill was supposed to have written about the grammarian’s law that came down about 1940 that we shall not end a
sentence with a preposition:  
This is something up with which we shall not put.  

Sat., August 9, 2014

Yesterday I drove past the church I'd been baptised in.  I suddenly realized I remembered nothing of it.  I have somewhere  around here the "font," the record of it: April, 1943.  I
was five years old and I remember nothing of it!  

In fact the baptism didn't take.  The church was and is one of the largest churches in the city and I remember noth-ing.  My folks only did it because they were new in town and
Dad thought it would help build up his medical practice.  He always had a kind of shrugging, take it or leave it attitude toward religion.  My mother thought going to church was a
sign of mental instability.  I can still see her sitting there at the dining room table on a Sunday afternoon, smoking her cigaret while the rest of us had our face down in our
plate, and she'd say of someone we were talking about.  "Well, you know about him..."--here she would tap her head with her finger--"he's got religion."  

I grew up that way.  That's the way we were.  Years later, of course, I had occasion to change my position.  But Mom remained Mom till the day she died at 88--well, one day
short of her 88th birthday.  She was a pretty woman who loved to laugh.  On her deathbed, she confided that when she died she wanted the world to end.  "Mo-om," I said in
laughing rebuke.  "I do," she said.  "I don't want to miss anything."  

And so she died.  When I wrote my first book I gave her a copy and inscribed it to her as "the mother of my imagination."  


Fri., August 8, 2014

Years ago I don't know where I read about a guy who wrote down things about his friends, like "Old Ed is fond of chicken gravy."  

That's all.  We are told nothing else about old Ed except of his fondness for chicken gravy.  What's the value of that?  Even if we personally knew old Ed, even if old Ed was (say)
our old
Uncle Ed, what did his fondness for chicken gravy have to do with anything?  At this time I read that, maybe 20+ years ago, I just laughed and thought, Well, you never
know what some people will do to occupy their life.  

But now...now I think what we are sneering at here, or what I was sneering at, rather, was the miniscule in life, the value of a stray memory.  What if, say, the great Roman
historian Edward Gibbon (
The Decline and Fall of Rome) had written that Nero was fond of chicken gravy?  (Well, maybe he was, and maybe Gibbon did write that, for all I
know--
Decline and Fall is a book I never had the honor to read the 3,000 pages of.) Well, we can understand a bit, can't we, if we hear that Nero (as well as Old Ed) was fond of
chicken gravy?  Because Nero was important, right? And this detail tells a little about his character, right?

And old Ed...he's not?  Well, let's say he's our Uncle Ed...what then?  

You see?  So the details of our lives, whether we happen to be Ed's nephew or niece or happen to be Ed himself, or whatever--then the details are important, they reveal things
about his or our character.

Do you agree?  

And so we write.  And by the way, I am
not fond of chicken gravy. ###

:
NEW JOURNALONG STARTS SEPTEMBER 1: Start Your Engines and
Journal along with Charley for 28 days!