Thursday, February 9, 2012

Covertly Gathering Family Stories - Part 3

On Tuesday, I wrote about the stories my grandmother wrote (even though she tells me that she doesn't remember anything). On Wednesday, I wrote about my plan to get more out of those stories from my dad, aunts and uncles. Today I'm going to share some of my results.

So I had this wonderful idea and plan to circumvent my grandmother and still get the family stories. My dad lives in Ohio, one uncle is in Alabama and the rest are in central Pennsylvania. I lucked out that 6 of the 7 siblings have email. I knew that some of them would share more than others and that was perfectly fine.

But would it work? I can't even begin to describe how amazed I am with the returns so far.

On Thursday, January 5, I sent out an email warning my relatives of my new, brilliant plan to get the family involved in my genealogy adventures. I received a few positive responses and started thinking that this just might work. If I could just put names with the stories, I would be happy.

On Friday, January 6, I sent my family the first mini story:

We had worn out furniture too. I remember when a priest dropped by for a visit, I tried to hide a broken spring and by standing one of my children in front of it. To my surprise, the priest picked up the little one and sat down on that chair. The spring always let you know it was there!

The responses started coming back. Not only did I learn who the priest was (my great grandmother worked as his housekeeper) and how my grandmother was embarrassed by that chair's broken spring and would often make the kids sit in it when they had company over, I also started getting stories about the kids visiting their grandmother when she moved to Susquehanna, Pennsylvania in order to continue working for the priest.

Those 3 lines became over a page of family memories.

The next week I sent out another story:

Once my family made a trip to Susquehanna. After getting 7 kids ready for the trip, I forgot to change my shoes. As we sat talking in the rectory, one of the kids asked, “Why are you wearing your dirty sneakers?”

The first week I only received memories from 2 of the 7 siblings. The following week I received 10 emails from 4 of the siblings. Story number 2 became a collection of stories about visiting Susquehanna (and how they never visited as a family since it took too long to get there). They even incorporated another of my grandmother's stories about leaving my uncle at home because they thought he was in the car with the rest of them.

Once again a few lines turned into a page of memories.

My aunts are sharing these stories with my grandparents and sending me their responses as well. As for my uncle who doesn't have email? My aunt called him to get the scoop on when he got a gash in his head at school so we could add his side to the stories.

Tomorrow I will share one of the stories that we created. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

  1. This is brilliant, Tina What a great way to gather and build your family stories. I don't have any of my aunts or uncles on my email list, but I'm going to have to consider trying this. Thanks for the inspiration, and I look forward to hearing some of your stories!