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You Are A Classic

 

I covered a news story for a local paper about a pop-up Cupcake Show. Held at a local library, participants created paintings on-the-spot of photographs of cupcakes supplied by the organizer. The event also included a cupcake potluck, a painting demonstration and music. The paintings were on display for only a few hours and then removed.

Diverse pop-ups are growing in popularity, not only with individuals organizing them, but also businesses and non-profits, such as museums, restaurants and boutiques. Like a potluck, the event is dependent upon the community contributing to the event.

From a personal history standpoint, consider creating/hosting Pop-up Storytelling events in your community. Fairs, festivals and farmers markets are popular venues.

– Buy cheap picture frames of various sizes at garage sales or thrift stores to “frame” the contributors’ storied objects.

– Put notices in the newspaper, Craigslist and other media inviting the community to participate in the pop-up by (1) bringing an item that has a story and (2) a story label to accompany it, explaining that it will only be on display for a few hours and they will take it home at the end of the event.

– On the day of the pop-up, at your selected venue spot, place the empty frames (glass removed) on fold-up tables covered with neutral colored cloths. As participants/contributors arrive, place their items into the empty frames with the story label placed just outside of its frame. (Be sure to obtain contact information in the event contributors fail to retrieve the items, for whatever reason.)

Host a monthly Pop-up Storytelling with a different theme each month and gain a following!

Childhood pets can run the gamut from cats, dogs, hamsters, goldfish, turtles, etc., to pigs and ferrets.  If Mom and Dad don’t want to deal with an animal, they can get pretty creative, suggesting hermit crabs and ant farms.

 

My first pet was a cat, which I named Felix, after the cartoon.  We lived near a heavily trafficked corner and, sadly, Felix was hit by a car. 

Felix the Cat

Felix the Cat

 

 

My next cat, Boots (named after the story Puss n Boots), had to be given away because it gave me ringworm.   

Puss n Boots

Puss n Boots

Share a story about your first pet.

 

You Are A Classic

 

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I received my first camera – a box Brownie – when I was about 8 years old. It didn’t take me long to go through a roll of film. I took pictures of anything that moved.

My father’s camera didn’t have a flashbulb (early 1960s). Instead, he would hold a T-shaped bar with three very large bulbs that could light a stadium. He had to take our pictures quickly, before we were blinded.

When my uncle decided to become a professional photographer, he asked me to sit for him so he’d have some shots for his portfolio. He suggested a nearby park. I said, “Fine,” but, was secretly mortified. I was in high school, and was afraid someone I knew might see me. Ah, teen angst.

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We all have our favorite Christmas songs, standards, pop and novelty.

My father’s side of the family is Scandinavian, so each year we love listening to Yogi Yorgesson’s “I Just Go Nuts At Christmas” (or, I Yust Go Nuts at Kreesmus) and “Jingle Bells” (or, Yingle Bells).

My favorite version of “Frosty the Snowman” is sung by Leon Redbone and Dr. John, with their funky, raspy voices, especially the “thumpity, thump, thump …”

Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby” is sexy.  Madonna’s version is stupid and annoying.  (Two cents.)

The standards of Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, etc.  evoke a certain peacefulness appropriate for the holiday season.  My favorite – “O Holy Night.”

I love that satellite radio offers a few different Christmas stations so I can choose classic, contemporary, standards, etc whenever I want.  We can all revisit Christmas’ of our past, or enjoy where we are now.

What’s your favorite Christmas song?

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Duplex Planet

Duplex Planet

If, for some reason, you’ve been out of the loop for the last couple of decades, I wanted to bring the wonderful “Duplex Planet” to your attention.  I bought this book about ten years ago, and share it whenever I get the chance.  It’s an example of why I enjoy the biography business.  You never know what someone is going to say.

As activity director of the Duplex Nursing Home, David Greenberg became friends with the residents.  He had the idea of asking common and wacky questions to the residents, from “How did you meet your wife?” to “Who was Frankenstein?” and record their responses.  Because it was a nursing home, the mental processes of the residents varied.  “… the names of their conditions of deterioration mattered little to me,” wrote Mr. Greenberg.  “What did matter was that this was someone still very much alive, very interested in conversing, in entertaining or being entertained, in connecting with someone else.”

 

Excerpts:

 

What’s the most valuable thing you ever lost?

 

Well, to me it was valuable.  It was a letter written to us extolling the virtues of my son from the Superintendent of Schools.  He said it could be used as a letter of recommendation anytime in his life.  It told that he was not only good scholastically, but he had good character as well.  I lost it somewhere. It fell out of my pocket.  To me it was valuable.

 

Herman Seftel

 

What can you tell me about the Beatles?

 

I don’t know nothin’ about the Beatles.  I can tell you more about the Salem Fire.  June 25th, 1914.  It burned seven days and seven nights.  We had doughnuts and coffee by the Salvation Army. I also wrote a book on the Salem Fire.  Worked with the Salem Public Works Department, fifteen years.

 

Walter Kieran

 

What’s the worst trouble you were ever in?

 

Probably I’ve been in plenty, but I don’t remember it.  My memory isn’t as good as it used to be.  Used-to-be.  How long ago is that, huh? 

 

Fergie Ferguson

 

Treat yourself to this insightful, humorous and poignant book of collected conversations of seasoned individuals.

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What did your grandmother do before you knew her?

Mine was a sharp shooter.  It was news to me!  Never saw her hold a gun in my life, which is probably a good thing.  She was always yelling at us kids to get out of the house, because we were making it dirty.  If she had a gun, I wouldn’t be here writing this …

Ask a grandparent about their childhood; what they did for fun when they were little.  Share here what you find out.

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So, what?  Biographies are not just for “famous people.”  Every single person has an interesting story to share.  Everyone. 

Ask five people you know the same question and see what different responses you get.  For example:  “When you were a child, what was something you got away with?”

Share your results here.

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A fellow historian recently attended an aging conference in Switzerland, where she learned that, in Germany alone, there are over 10,000 residents over the age of 100.  One of them was quoted as saying, “I stopped worrying about my children when they entered rest homes.”

Who is your oldest relative?  What is his or her earliest memory that you find really interesting?

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