A very shy college student came home for the summer, sat down at her grandmother's feet and said "tell me the stories you used to tell me". Since her grandmother adored her, she granted her wish. She spent the afternoon singing, laughing, and sharing with her grand daughter the moments that would create an abundance of goodwill throughout the years to come. The moments that would be needed to prove to her great grand children how wonderful a person she was. They recorded the voice that would delight her aging daughter some 30 years later. She shared information that revealed the source of personality traits that were repeated through generations. They recorded a moment in time to be shared with her family who would later miss her.
That student was me. Ersula Knox Odom.
The tape recorder was huge and malfunctioned. I was distressed at having my tight, reserved voice recorded along with the clear strong voice of my hero. But something within me refused to stop. I knew then that these stories would be a part of me forever. I had no idea HOW MUCH.
I was raised by a grandmother who was the youngest and last surviving sister of seven brothers and sisters. I was perfectly placed to enjoy family history. Everyone came to visit his or her good-natured auntie, affectionately known as "Sula." These visits afforded me opportunities to enjoy those endearing walks down memory lane; each relative having a slightly different and fascinating twist to the same stories. These experiences and my enthusiasm for collecting such information, later earned me the title of SMART/PELOTE Family Historian.
In fact it appears my past actions were setting the stage and lying dormant until I matured enough to truly be excited about revealing the past to the future. I kept scrapbooks in high school. I became the self appointed photographer for the theatre department in college. Kept a journal during college including as an exchange student in London. Kept letters written to me during college. I exchanged audiotapes, at my request, instead of letters with my high school boy friend. We were separated by different college choices.
A lot of the pictures you will see throughout the book, on this site and future projects were old photos that I retrieved from Grandmother's shortly before the family home was destroyed by fire. I'm so glad that I begged my aunt to go into the attic of her house, which was about to be sold, to "see" if there was "anything" up there. One of my most cherished possessions is a recording of my paternal grandmother reciting a birthday poem to my maternal grandmother for her 90th birthday.
I spent hours searching through census records for family connections and documenting my findings for our family reunions. I informally preserve special events and milestones from my career years. I recently spent my birthday in a scrapbooking class with my daughters. My friends now label me as a "story teller."
In 2001 I left a college reunion driven to use wonderful new technology, get organized, and prepare for capturing more memories. All forms of collecting family history appeal to me, including oral history. It is comforting to know that writing stories and life lyrics, building family trees, organizing photos, and following people around with a microphone will ensure that I will never be bored.
This is very moving story . I'm glad somneone on your family picked up the ball . I NEVER thought I would get into genealogy but I fell and broke my hip 4 1/2 years ago and my wife made the BIG mistake of teaching me how to turn on a computer . Now she can't get me off of it . I told her it's like an old hound dog on a trail . You just can't quit . The only thing is I used to repair copy machines . When you push a button on a copier something happens . A computer . You push a button and it ask you ? Are you sure you want to do that ? Of course you stupid machine . I wouldv'e told you to do it if I didn't want yo to do it . Stupid computer . Just as smart as the one behind it . Ain't they GREAT .
A computer . You push a button and it ask you ? Are you sure you want to do that ? Of course you stupid machine. LOL
Ursula, I am just getting acquainted with your writing and just look forward to reading more. How perceptive you were in your youth! To have your grandmother's stories and audio recordings is indeed priceless. How I wish I had started earlier.
Patricia, as I say in my seminars, it is your turn. If you don't record your stories your family will being saying the same thing. You are the link between the past and future. I know, I am preaching to the choir.