Just some thoughts and ideas going around in my head while trying to figure out where I am and where everyone else is going.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Just One More Story, Perhaps

Ego is not one of the reasons that I started doing a blog. I have kept a diary or journal before, but for one reason or another I had stopped making entries and I wanted to leave some sort of record behind of the experiences that I had had and the way that I had felt about them. It’s not that any of them are really important but I wanted to do something similar to the great diarists like Samuel Pepys and others and leave an impression of the age that I lived in.
There is also I believe an African tradition of leaving an oral history behind, a custom of telling stories that are passed on down through the ages in order for those who come after us to learn. I don’t know if it’s still in operation but I had heard that a group of people had set up a box in Grand Central in New York where people could go for about an hour and have themselves interviewed and their stories recorded for posterity. This, in a small way is what I am trying to do.

My grandmother has been ill for about 3 or 4 years. She is not a handsome woman, in fact she looks a little like Mandela, Nelson not Winnie and I have decided that I should try and get her story before it’s too late for either one of us. I am not sure what it is that I want her to tell me, I already know much of her life. I know how her father forced the man who impregnated her at 16 to marry her at 17. How some years later she and Oscar Greene had been sitting down to breakfast when they heard on the radio “Love is a many Splendored Thing” dedicated to Oscar from Eileen and of how he packed his bags and left without a word; granny’s name is Winifred. I have heard the stories of how she would then send my mother to her father for some money so they could both eat.

I have even heard the stories of how when we first met, when I would run up to her, spit in her face and scratch her. All of this while I was bow legged with a nose so flat that she would have to mold it with her hands in order for me to breathe. I have heard her tell the story of how she saw JFK get shot on the TV and of how she heard Jackie scream “Oh no!” It took me a while to figure that they didn’t have live TV in ’63 and even now when they show the Super-8 movie of the assassination, there is no sound, but then it’s not important.

What is important is that I get her story what ever it is. It may be of no use to anyone but herself and I probably wont even put it down. But still, I will have it and as long as she doesn’t start to tell me about how she ran dawn patrol with Hillary in Bosnia, then I will be happy.

All I want is just one more story.


  1. Oh I am so happy you are doing this. It is only after I have lost most of my elders that I realized I was missing pieces of my heritage. I have tried to fix that by talking to anyone in my family with a story, and you can only imagine the things I discovered (great and disturbing. I am so glad you are doing this I pray you share whatever the stories bring!

  2. Ingrid - Thanks, I think everyone should try to speak to their elders, if only in order to try and figure out where they came from and why they came about. I never spoke to any of my other grandparents for any real amounts of time and I know for me many of their stories are gone. This is my last chance for a heritage that's going to be real.

  3. Curious, thank you so much for sharing this story with your readers and a very special thanks from me, I can't begin to describe the feelings of elation this story has instilled in this brotha.

    First and foremost I would like to address your comment on Grandma not being handsome, on the contrary young man Grandma is a beautiful living being; her health may be failing her, but she is still beautiful.

    I can only imagine the stories your Grandma has shared with you, the history/historicalevents that she recollects as if it where yesterday as opposed to yesteryear.

    I used to set for hours listening to stories my parents and older realatives would share with me, and man all I can say is that their stories entertained me, and educated me because we have no idea where we are going if we have no clue where we came from or something of that nature.

    You are absolutely right about the African Tradition of:Oral History (storytelling), it is also the tradition of many other cultures today, I know for a fact that African American Elders still pass the stories on orally.

    Keeping an journal is probably one of the most intelligent things we can do for ourselves, record thoughts, events and information.

    Thank you Curious, I always enjoy stopping by your blog.

  4. Thank you Chet, - When I refer to granny not being a handsome woman, I'm actually speaking about that superficial Hollywood look that you see in the magazines or the silver screen. She would be the 1st one to say that she doesn't possess those looks but she still has done well for herself. It was only when I hit my mid-teens that I realized that all those uncles that I was introduced to weren't actually related to me and that she was quite "popular" in her own way.

  5. It is good that you are doing this. When my grandmother came to my house for the 1st time she wasn't strong enough to walk up all the stairs I have in my house so she sat in my bedroom. I turned on some old Billy Holiday music and asked her what it reminded her of. She told me a couple of stories that I'll always have.

  6. D - Hold on to those stories. Now they are yours too. At least that's what I'm starting to realize. I'm down to just 1 grandparent now so this is my last chance.

  7. I'm glad you're capturing history in your writings, and I think it's quite a tribute to your grandmother for you to share her story. Thanks.

  8. First let me say that I like your new banner. It very tastiful, and quite beautiful This best blog banner to date.

    Second, let me just say that this statement: "in fact she looks a little like Mandela, Nelson not Winnie" tickled me. I know it was not meant to be funny, so I'm sorry, but it still made me chuckle. Still, I gotta say, that this post touched me. I like what you had to say. It's nice to get those memories out there. I never keep a journal and that was not the point of my blog, and it actually concerns me that I might be moving in that direction with my blog. I need to stop myself.

  9. Whoze - I'm not sure that I'll be telling all or anything that she tells me. This aint that kind of "Mommie Dearest" thing. What I will do is keep it for my own information and maybe see how that past has influenced my thoughts and development.
    OMO - Thanks, the banner was something that I was never satisfied with since I started last year. I may keep this one for a year and see what else I can do with it next year.

    The Mandela thing was actually something my sister said to me about 8 or 10 years ago, you know how only women can get.

    The blog itself really isn't a journal of my everyday activities, but I do recignize it as a record of my thoughts at a particular time. I think that would hold true for many other people too.

  10. man i am praying for ulike u did me, i mean u know i just went through the same. all i had was good memories to help me pass the time and prayers from folk like u

  11. Thanks for sharing these experiences with your Grandmother. As others have said, the oral tradition is important, but collectively we need to record their (elders) stories. My "Mimi"
    (89 years old) is having some challenges now too. New banner is great! KBH

  12. Annie - I thought Mimi was 88 this year. I will admit you are right about recording stories from the elders but what I'm starting hear is turning into a John Steinbeck novel and I'm not sure I'm comfortable with finding out that after all of that, I'm the end product.


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