by Pam Pacelli Cooper
President, Verissima Productions
Happy New Year All! May 2018 be the year you “Save Lives”.
As a personal historian, I’ve been encouraging people to save their stories for over 20 years, but I recently realized I haven’t been so good at saving my own. This year, I decided to take genealogist Amy Johnson Crow’s challenge to report on 52 ancestors in 52 weeks (#52 ancestors). Over the course of the year, I’ll be sharing some of what I find with you. I hope it will encourage you to take up the challenge for yourself. You can: enter the process with Ms. Crow, find help online and/ or by work with a professional personal historian to bring your story to light.
Prompt #1: STARTING OUT
Time: The early 1950’s
Place: A tiny studio apartment on Chicago’s South Side
- An 80-year-old woman, born four years after the end of the Civil War
- A four-year-old girl
- A metal bell with a clothespin for a handle
- A wooden “lap board”
The little girl spends a lot of time with her great grandmother, and is fascinated by these two objects. “Why does that bell have a clothespin on it?” “My father was a blacksmith and he made the bell in his own forge. He took the clothespin from my mother for the handle” (clothespins were sturdier in the 1870’s). “Why did he need a bell?” “To call us in to study” “Didn’t you go to school?” “No. He and mother believed we three sisters could learn better at home. He made that lap board too. My sisters and I each had one, and we used it instead of a desk to figure our sums and practice our handwriting.”
The questions and the stories continued for 12 years, and that little girl grew up to be a personal historian. Thank you for the head start my wonderful GG, Isabel Hero Bradshaw Parker.