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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!

Lake Julie

“Hello?” I answered my work phone.

“This is the last time I’m going to read this to you,” was the responsive greeting  I immediately recognized my father’s voice. “’I will not eat it in a box, I will not eat it with a fox. I will not
eat green eggs and ham. I will not eat it, Sam I Am.’”

“Oka-a-y,” I responded, glancing around the busy law office, wondering where this was going.

“Dr. Seuss recently died,” he said, “and I’m reading a column in today’s San Francisco Chronicle paying tribute to him.  I was thinking about how many times I had to read his books to you over and over again.  So, I’m just letting you know, that this is the last time I’m reading this to you.”

Laughing, I said, “Well, thanks for lobbing me one more read.”

His jobs over the years ran the gamut from disc jockey to TV announcer to trial attorney to ultimately retiring as Deputy Chief Counsel for the State of California. Throughout his careers he always had an audience of some sort. Don’t forget that trial lawyers play to a jury.

One of my earliest memories of my father is sitting on a riverbank with him, looking up at the night sky. I asked him, “What are stars?”

He replied, “Well, when it’s night time, God pulls down a shade. The shade has a lot of holes in it, so the sun shines through those holes.”

It made perfect sense to my three-year-old self.

A few more “highlights” of life with my father:

  • When my brothers and I were kids, he enjoyed playing Director in home movies. We couldn’t just walk up a sand dune. We had to crawl on our bellies, tongues hanging out, dying of thirst in the Sahara Desert. Too bad movie cameras didn’t have sound back then. It would be fun to hear our comments.
  • And, he would just make stuff up. For instance, my great-grandfather’s name was William Harrison. So, my dad told me that I was related to President William Henry Harrison, which I proceeded to share with all my friends, until I found out it wasn’t true. It so happens that that president served about 40 years before my great-grandfather even immigrated to this country.
  • My brothers like to tell the story of when our family camped near Mt. Lassen. Dad announced we would be hiking up the mountain, so our mother suggests we bring jackets. My father responds, “No, we don’t need them. The higher we are, the closer we’ll be to the sun, so it will be warmer.”
  • He kept the manuscript of “Pirates of Penzance” from his college acting days, and decided that he, my brothers and I were going to act out the different parts, and he would record us on the tape recorder. I can still see him coaching my brothers on the “correct” way to say “Arrgh,” as my mother rolled her eyes.

My father taught me how to use my imagination – to look at people and situations at different angles. I am grateful to him for this, because it allows me to see and understand different points of view, and to appreciate an individual’s uniqueness.

I am a biographer-personal historian. I am very good at it. I have a strong organizational skillset, but, more importantly, I was blessed with an upbringing of storytelling and a curiosity about life. Because of my father’s influence, I am able to preserve life stories for families around the world in a fun, educational and insightful manner; the benefits of which will be enjoyed generation after generation.

Thanks, Dad.

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