In my last post I urged people to talk to their elders and learn their family stories, family history. Without meaning to lecture, today I will go further and say WRITE IT DOWN. Any of it, all of it. Memories are amazingly unreliable things… and while stories are interesting, they have a way of morphing with each telling, until they become the bullshistory that Ernie talks about.
After Bret Harte left (or was forced from) Humboldt County, he didn’t write about his three years here (hence the “lost years” description). Other than his editorials, and what he consciously or unconsciously reveals in his fiction, we don’t really know much about his experiences and likely never will. That part of history, that perspective, is lost forever.
Don’t let that happen to your descendants. While I’m being bossy, I’m going to go ahead and remind folks that this is history too. This moment, right now. Any genealogist hungry for family stories will appreciate what I’m saying here. Record your own stories and your ghost will feel the love a hundred years from now.
Members of the Preston and Lindsey families did a wonderful thing by creating a book of their family history. It can be found at the historical society, and probably the county library. This is how we know that John Preston helped transport the dead after the massacre.
I’m not saying you need to write a book, but if someone has an affinity for animals, was an adventurer or had webbed feet like my aunt did (no kidding), write it down. Save the letters from your son in Iraq, your daugher off in college. Even the silly little things will become invaluable history someday.
Oh, take photos too. And mark ‘em with who is who. This historic photo was once a family picture. If you get a hit by a truck tomorrow, it’ll all be too late.