Homegrown History

HISTORY, PLAIN AND SIMPLE

 


Lyle’s story

Lyle was born in 1921 and grew up on a ranch in Wyoming. His wife died young, leaving Lyle with a son of three. In the course of life as a single parent, which included remarriage, the Army and ranching, Lyle never found the occasion to talk much with his son. A man of few words, Lyle felt self-conscious focusing attention on himself. But he soon discovered it wasn’t so much a history of himself as a dialogue about the people and events he remembered. In his case, there was no one else left who could tell these stories.

We spent a week with Lyle. The first days involved talking and taping, then, with a better grasp of the overall story, we sat down at the big kitchen table and painstakingly went through boxes of pictures, letters and diaries. Among those was a colorful piece of writing from the 1880s by Lyle’s Uncle Eb describing a spirited attempt to match Great Plains bison against bulls in the Mexican bullring.

It is very satisfying to watch the pieces fall into place. Photographs take on new life when they appear together with text that speaks to them. The resulting story is rich and whole, eliminating the sense of unfinished business that goes with collections of random memorabilia.

The surprise for Lyle was the number of people who found the memoir he’d done for his son a fascinating social history of a particular time and place.

 

Please Note: To protect our clients’ privacy, we have not used actual names. However, the excerpts and circumstances are exactly as presented. Client references and writing samples are available on request.

 

 


Camden Writers • 20 Lincoln Street. Brunswick Maine, 04011 • tel (207) 729-0911