Holding on To My Story
My Story was hard to come by. Nobody told it to me. I’m not sure that I am glad that nobody told me my story, or my father’s or grandfather’s story. Ours was not a story telling family. I became a historian because of stories and story telling. Stories are very important to me, especially now that I am forgetting more than I am learning. I am not near as good a story teller as I would like to be.
I use the blog format as a tool to help me remember what I am forgetting, and at the same time, improve the quality of my writing in a public forum, where perhaps my stories might be read and commented on.
I began blogging regularly on Open Salon in 2009. I finished a graduate degree in 2011 at 54, and began writing in 2012, mostly about the decades I spent trying to make sense of a complicated place. The history of Monmouth County is my obsession. But, as circumstances would have it, I am not there, and have not been there except to roam around a stranger mostly since 2011.
My family history is a mystery, mostly. Other than public records, there is almost no information about my family anywhere. I know a few stories, but there are no facts or documents to support or prove even those. I might just as easily create a colorful version of my family history to pass along to my children and grandchildren, but I feel obligated to stick as close to the truth as possible, which means that that as far as generations before mine, I have little to add beyond the public records that I am sure they will easily access, should they become curious.
Perhaps no story is better than a story that might run counter to the myths and legends that have been created to bind a nation that has real problems with history. I am sure that my family, like many others, came to the United States for reasons that they wanted to leave behind. We were not told this to be the case as children. We were told nothing at all. I am pretty sure that my parents knew very little about their parents, and what they did know they did not tell us. I don’t think my parents liked their parents very much.
As a historian and a social scientist of sorts, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my family and American Culture during the twentieth century. I know that my story begins with these people who I know far too little about and that who they were was shaped by American Culture more than anything that had came with their families from Europe.
I was very lucky to have had half a century to live in one place, and for most of that had access to the property I had lived on since seven, which was only a few miles, if that, from where they were living before I was born.
For most of my decades there I was most concerned with place, not people. I was not keenly interested in people. I was interested in the rivers, bays, ocean and estuaries of Monmouth County, and the creatures that lived in them. I was also interested in the people who had lived here for thousands of years before the Europeans, far more than I was interested in the people that I had no choice but to see everyday.
My primary goal as a blogger is to work out stories of a past that I paid far too little to while it was passing by, and some. Blogging helps my writing, and my story telling. Im holding on to my story for as long as I can. When all else fails, there is always the story.
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