June, 8, 2012

He Had An Adventurous Soul

If StoryKeep made t-shirts, they would probably say “Old People Rock.” Either that, or “My grandma’s stories are better than your grandma’s stories.”

We love interviewing people who have lived long lives. This past week, we ran across a beautiful article by Amy Goyer. In the piece, she writes about her grandfather who grew up on a farm in Indiana. The way she writes about him is the way we love to record peoples’ stories – with soul, respect, humor and grace.

In her article on AARP’s blog, she recalls,

“Granddaddy passed on many years ago, but I still remember many of his stories. I learned about my family history through them. Why did they stick with me so well? In addition to the colorful language he frequently inserted, he had a way of painting a picture with his words and really getting our attention with his voice, his face and his actions and a few props thrown in here and there. And he had fun with it.

He didn’t just tell me that he worked on the railroad. He described how fast the train between Chicago and Pittsburgh went and showed me how he’d stand up—plastered against the wall—while trying to sort the mail. He included just enough detail to make it real but not so much that it got boring. Believe me, no one could ever describe Granddaddy as boring.

When he told me about the time he and his family went across the creek to visit friends, and he and a neighbor girl snuck out to the summer house to eat all the whipped cream, I asked him if they hightailed it ‘outta there to avoid getting in trouble. “Oh no,” he said, “We stuck around … but I bet that girl got in a heap of trouble after we left!” And he’d hoot and holler. He got such a kick out of his stories that no one else could help but have fun with them too. And from his description, I could taste that fresh whipped cream and feel how he must have felt to get away with eating all of it!”

Amy Goyer’s grandfather has now passed (at the ripe old age of 98!). We love her last tip for sharing your family’s stories.

“Document your family’s stories. I’m lucky because I have audiotapes of my grandfather telling many of his stories, and I have videotape of my parents. And now, there are great resources for digital storytelling. Don’t waste any time: Record your family’s stories while you can, so their stories can live on.”

We couldn’t agree more!

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