My intent with my second book is similar to what I did when writing my first book--I try to get in touch with every person whose name is in the book. If that person is deceased, I contact one or more of their descendants. I want permission to use their names, but I also enjoy talking with them and catching up on their lives. Unfortunately, in all our busy lives, we often don't take the time to communicate with people who've been a part of our past.
I believe that we are a part of all that we have met. Our interactions with people over the years contribute to the person we become. But, I'm like most people. I think about all those people, but I don't stop what I'm doing to contact them. My writing gives me that reason to stop.
I think the first story in my book--I'm never sure of story order until I have the book completed--will be about the time that I lived in Red Deer starting in the summer of 1970. I worked as a nursing attendant at the West Park Nursing Home and lived across the street with a landlady named Mrs. S. One of the young women who was also a tenant was a woman who now lives on a farm near Delburne, Alberta. The minute I heard her hearty laugh in the fall of 1970, I knew I was in for adventures.
We had a great time during those eight months that we lived together in Red Deer, but we had lost touch over the forty plus subsequent years. I called her a couple weeks ago, and we laughed about some of those adventures. As we talked, she and I both remembered more details. We reminisced about our common love of Neil Diamond's songs. We recalled that she was driving a blue ’59 Chev, and the only way we could get it to start was if she turned the ignition while I firmly tapped the starter with a heavy instrument. The tap seemed to wake up the starter so it would do its job. She kept a wrench on the floor of the back seat for that purpose.
I also contacted several of Doug's former work colleagues, and they added details--and corrected one anecdote--about the old times at the I.G.A. and OK Economy stores. Then, I emailed some of his 'car friends' for permission to use their names in the adventures, and misadventures, with old cars. Everyone gave permission and encouragement.
I had to do some tracking to locate a few of my former work colleagues, but I found most of them. I'm still searching for contact information for the daughter-- who now lives in Vancouver--of a good friend and former colleague of mine who died from lung cancer in 1995. One of the difficulties I'm encountering is that although most of my generation still have landlines and are listed on directory assistance, the younger generation tend to have only cellphones without listings. Most of the younger generation use social media so I may actually have to open a Twitter or Facebook account to connect. (I've avoided doing that because I have difficulty finding time to keep up my website, must less to Twitter and do Facebook entries.)
One vignette that I wanted to use in a story about my years teaching at the University of Saskatchewan was taking university students into Saskatoon schools to work with children. I found a letter in a scrapbook from a grade one class and their teacher thanking us for coming to work with them and for the pizza we all shared afterwards. (I faithfully kept scrapbooks which I'm now very grateful for as they provide rich details that I'd forgotten over the years.)
The teacher was a former student of mine. I wanted to use the story so I set out to track down the teacher. I called the Saskatoon Public School Board office to see if she was still working in that system. The receptionist told me that she couldn't give out phone numbers or school location, but she could give me the teacher's email address. I sent an email with my contact information. About ten minutes later, my phone rang. "I wanted to hear your voice again," my former student said. We joked that I thought maybe she'd heard enough of my voice when I taught her. She's had a very successful career and has been a school principal for 15 years. We plan to keep in touch.
I then called more of Doug's cousins on the White side of the family--Doug's mother's maiden name was White. I'm collecting ideas for a story about Doug's grandparents. Although there are limited memories because Doug's Grandma Annie White died when most of them were either young, or not yet born, they did have some memories of Grandpa White that I will incorporate into a story.
I also called and emailed several people from the early years at Wakaw Lake. There are still some of us who are original cabin owners--it's been 35 years for us since we bought the lot. I am fortunate to have the help of a former original cabin owner and a remaining good friend who had contact information--or she knew where to obtain it. Between us, we tracked down several people, and I contacted them for permission to use their names and anecdotes. Each one of them said they enjoyed reading the story about old times at the lake.
Everyone I contacted--who presently live on farms and in villages, towns, and cities across Western Canada--gave me permission to use their names and stories. It really does take a very large village for me to write a book. Thanks everyone--I enjoyed our conversations this week. And, to those of you who are reading this and haven't been called yet, your turn may come--whether you want to hear from me or not.
Have a great December everyone. You may want to consider pausing during these busy times and calling or contacting a friend, former work colleague, or former neighbor wherever they live--on a farm or in villages, towns, or cities. Get in touch. Stay in touch.
Those last two sentences reminded me: You can get in touch with me by responding to this post or sending me a message on my Contact page. I hope to hear from you soon.