Little Histories. Bits and pieces of our lives stitched together as memories: vivid images, remembrances of colorful adventures, sound bites both eerie, exotic, erotic and exceedingly beautiful, stories told to us by relatives and friends—blended into the fabric of our days so cleverly that we are not sure what happened, what we imagined may have happened, or what memories we may have borrowed from others and forgot to return. These are our histories. This is who we are.
The night was humid, the kind of evening that has you swiping the damp hair up and off your neck and wishing for a long cool drink of water. Inside the History Museum at #6 Couch Street, the air conditioner was cranked up to do its best, and the ceiling fans were stirring a pleasant breeze throughout the packed rooms. More than 30 members and at least 15 visitors were laughing and chatting while balancing little plates of sweet and savory snacks in one hand and holding a chilled glass of wine, a coke or an icy beer in the other.
Right at 7 o’clock, the meeting was called to order, everyone scrambled to put half-filled plates down in order to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The brief business portion of the evening was conducted quickly — guests and members were reviewing the programs they had found on their seats (the ones lucky enough to get one, a seat that is) and looking for Maureen Schuyler who was listed after “Introduction.” It was obvious that we had a crowd who was anxious to see just what this program promised to be, what it was all about. What did it mean, “Little Histories?”
Thursday night at the Senoia Area Historical Society, a group of local artists known collectively as The Senoia Writers Guild “took the stage” to share stories that had deep roots in their childhoods or that had evolved from tales told to them by a father, an uncle, their grandmother or that while perhaps not even in the distant past, would be indelibly printed on their minds for as long as they lived.
Betsy Van der Hoek opened with a reading called “What is History,” a piece which took everyone along in the family car on hot summer road trips to places often chosen by her dad Fred Springer, a history buff. What kid in us doesn’t remember wondering if we were there yet and why exactly we were supposed to care when the Battle of Bunker Hill took place? Oddly enough, the writer who followed Betsy was her dad, Fred, who read a story of how his Uncle Lucien won the Silver Star and how that uncle whose war remembrances were still raw, finally after years of Fred’s begging, relayed the story to young Fred.
Kimberly Osborne Sullivan, author of the delightful novel “Bigfoot:CSI” which is set in Senoia, treated everyone to a story about how her dad, as a rookie Chicago cop, once hid behind a rather large woman in order to keep from being shot by her son! According to the woman, her son was “just actin’ the Fool.” Scary scenario with a funny twist! Then the audience was taken on a journey into rural North Carolina as Ed Meglin, a retired policeman himself, read a family tale set in depression era Union County. Many familiar touchstones were captured in this story of his extended family; people, places and things that are part of our families and our lives.
Christmas in a small town in Mississippi was the setting for my story Thursday evening. I was more than pleased when later a lady in the audience said, “I thought I heard a little Magnolia in your voice.” My story about a disappointing Lay-A-Way at the Western Auto Store had surely given me away. The nostalgia that was my motivation for the story, I truly believe, runs deep in all our lives.
The newest member of this close-knit group of authors, Scott Ludwig, author of a dozen books on running and 40-time loser of the Peachtree Road Race, LOL, entertained the spellbound crowd. The piece Scott chose paid tribute to a writer he admires and emulates, and who most of our audience knew and loved, Lewis Grizzard. They both are really, really funny guys. Scott’s piece catalogued many of the people who have touched his life along his journey as a columnist and as a distance runner. Sweet stories. Every one.
Lauren McGuire followed with a beautiful, bittersweet tribute to her nomadic life as the daughter of a United States Army officer appropriately called “Full Circle.” She, much like myself — an Army brat — wandered the globe always searching for Home. She shared some harrowing experiences while in the Middle East before her dad was relocated to the Atlanta area. Finally, years later, Lauren and her husband along with their three children, (all born and raised right here in Georgia with grandparents nearby), have begun to sink their roots deep into the Coweta soil. OK. So I teared up.
Last on the night’s very full and very well-received program was Jason Goff. His story “Life after Death” was a terrifying list of the many, many times Jason has faced death escaping in ways one might call “miraculous.” From surviving being stabbed by a Neo-Nazi, critically injured in more than one wreck, the list went on and on. He began and ended the dramatic piece with everyone holding their breath as he described the experience of dying; he described his death, being held down under baptismal waters and then raised to a new life in Christ! The crowd broke out in loud applause. What a great way to end a great evening.
“Our history is a perishable commodity. As memories fade and loved ones pass away, it is our responsibility to preserve the stories of the past and the present for the future.” Gary Black