In 2012, I am planning to return to collecting personal histories from people who have an interesting story about themselves, their families, or their friends. If you read the introductory article and the three examples I provided, you will see what kind of diverse stories I am interested in. The short term plan is to collect them in a blog that will appear on this website. The long term plan is to eventually prepare them as print and e-books, possibly arranged around several specific topics. I would like to know if there are enough people interested in joining the project – please leave a comment to let me know.
All too often, the idea of personal histories brings to mind an image of genealogical research, or a tedious list of dates, places and events. Perhaps a family tree, with some pictures of family members pasted on it. This is the wrong idea. Personal histories are the most exciting stories in the world – stories that mirror people’s lives and souls. They are true stories, sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes hilariously funny, tales of the deepest human interest.
Everyone has a story. This unique, valuable tale expresses the thoughts, feelings, and events of an individual life. No one else can tell it – the deeply personal circumstances, the joys, the sorrows, the adventures can only be expressed by the person who has experienced them. You could write it yourself if you enjoy writing, and if not, you could share it with a personal historian. Working together, you will make this priceless information available to your family, friends, and perhaps – who knows? Even to a larger audience. Many personal biographies are published with great success.
Scarlett Johansson's lovely grandmother
Ladies and gentlemen, permit us to introduce the star: Miss Dorothy Sloan! Take a bow, Dorothy; this is your fan club.
Some people who know Dorothy may argue, and mention that she is not the only star in her family. Very true. Dorothy is the grandmother of the shining and enchanting, not to mention very famous, Scarlett Johansson. But let’s face it; we know that any woman’s truly interesting life story demands some time to ripen. The great French Writer, Honoré de Balzac, said that a woman begins to be interesting only when she reaches “a certain age.” The beautiful and talented Ms. Johansson, who loves her grandma dearly and has always thought of Dorothy as her best friend, will be the first to admit that she has followed in Grandma’s footsteps when she decided, at a very early age, to pursue her successful show biz career.
As told by Rebecca
This picture of Rebecca and Danilo as teens was given to me by childhood friends and it is possible that a mistake was made regarding the identity. I have no way of checking it out and if anyone recognizes either of them, and thinks that this is the wrong person, please let me know and I will immediately remove the picture.
Separating from Danilo was the worst part. We grew up together in our little village, our houses stood side by side and our parents were best friends. We thought of ourselves as brother and sister. Each day we played in our adjoining yards, creating our own little world of magic. I remember the scent of snow in winter, the clean earth and growing herbs in spring and summer. Our childhood was so good, so secure. At the time it was enough, more than enough. Who would have thought we could fall in love, too? But that is exactly what happened. When Danilo and I reached our teens, he was sent to the Gymnasium in Odessa, and I stayed at the local school. We only saw each other on vacations and soon enough realized how we really felt about each other.
As Told By Dianne Ettl
“I’d like to live to be a hundred and twenty, so I can see all the wonderful things to come. And at the right time, I’d probably ask for another twenty.” Chaim said that as he was celebrating his one hundredth birthday at his beloved Day Center of the Jewish Home and Hospital in Manhattan, surrounded by other seniors and the staff – all of whom adored him. Unfortunately, he did not live to be as old as that, having passed away a month short of the age of one hundred and four.
All the wonderful things to come? This is not a statement one hears very often. Many people, much younger than Chaim, lose their optimism and their zest for living as the years go by. Chaim maintained an enormous love of life. “To think of all the marvelous technological and scientific advances I’ve seen over the past century is amazing. I can only wonder what the next fifty years will produce? The young people of today are living in a wonderful age.” Evidently, no “good old days” regrets for Chaim.