S is for Story

Donald Grant 1947 Stock Car

Dad in front of his stock car, circa 1947

“Moments are history. If you have enough of them, they become a story.”  ― Adriana Trigiani, The Shoemaker’s Wife

By now I hope you can see that it is the stories behind the names and dates that make your family history meaningful. But don’t just be a story collector; weave your family stories into everyday life—bedtime stories, family vacation travel time, meal time, holidays. In 2005 scientists at Emory University’s Center on Myth and Ritual in American Life, studied family conversations and how they affect children.

They studied children between the ages of 9 and 12 and those children’s exposure to family stories told by parents and grandparents. When they followed up with those children a few years later,

they found that the children who heard stories about their families from the time before they were born were more secure, and had a stronger sense of self and better self-esteem. Knowing our family history affects our sense of who we are, our sense of meaning, even about what it is to be human. (For the full quote, and  links to the study see Daniel Hubbard’s blog post on Personal Past Meditations- a Genealogical Blog)

Family Vignette

When I was young, our family went on many camping trips and outings to the racetrack to watch my dad race stock cars. His trademark was Yogi Bear, which he had painted on the side of his car. We explored Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts in every kind of camping vehicle imaginable: we’ve had a Scotty, a Metzendorf, tents, tent-trailers and even a few of my dad’s own creations.

My dad didn’t often get many vacation days, so sometimes we’d pick a camping site that was nearby and he would go to work, then come and join us there at the end of the day. My sister and I never noticed that he wasn’t around much on these trips as we were so busy playing, but once as an adult I passed a small campground near our home and recognized it (small pond out front with a large rock in the middle) as a place we had camped as children. I asked mom why we had chosen a site so close to home and she told me about wanting to give us kids a fun vacation but not having the time or means to go anywhere very far.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, when I share our famous TENT story!

Scotty Camper

Scotty Camper

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge 2014


About Gail

Genealogist, librarian, writer, traveler, Mormon
This entry was posted in A-Z Challenge, Family, Genealogy & Family History, Good Old Days, Life Lessons, Synchronicity, Travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to S is for Story

  1. Some of my favorite childhood memories are those that include stories being told by my parents and grandparents. I love hearing how my family was a part of events and happenings throughout the world and in our community throughout history. So much rich culture and history that I can call my own! Great post!!

    So much of my childhood was spent camping with my family so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s “tent” story!

    Also, great quote! We read that book a while back for our book club. LOVE Adriana Trigiani! Have you read any of her other books?

    • gapark says:

      I just checked out her newest from the library: the supreme macaroni company! Also read the Gap Creek series and loved that, and several others. Definitely a fan.

  2. wordstock16 says:

    We are vintage trailer people and have three. A ’59 Dalton, a ’73 Pacer, and a teardrop. I have camped my whole life. When we went to Montana, we always camped in Yellowstone on our way there. My kids know those stories and love the ones about the bears. Doing family history, I have proved two of the stories told by my grandparents as true. The other one doesn’t hold up to the timeline but there is truth there somewhere and I will find it. Family stories do give us a sense of being related to the past. Can’t wait to hear your tent story.

  3. melinda says:

    I’ve camped all my life, too, and started my kids young as well (the first time my youngest went camping, he was three weeks old!). Wonderful post, and I especially love the quote. I will definitely check out Daniel’s blog–thanks for the tip!

  4. helenrj says:

    My mother was of Irish heritage. She could spin a tale! Most of the stories she told to me I have told to my kids. Ancient history was storytelling before the printed word or cave scribblings.

  5. My family and I never camped much, but there were a few family vacations. Plus, it was always a trip to go visit relatives since we lived 6 hours away. That was like a mini vacation, but to grandma’s house.

    ~Patricia Lynne~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, YA Author

  6. Sammy D. says:

    Gail – I loved this story for so many reasons. It’s your best A to Z post for me so far – only yo be topped by tomorrow’s tent story!

    One of my granddaughter’s favorite things at the dinner table is for us to name a relative and she has to tell us how she is related to that person. We all enjoy that gsme.

    • gapark says:

      Gee, thanks! What about this one spoke to you?? I’m hoping I can play that game with my family once they have all read my A-Z posts!!

      • Sammy D. says:

        Probably the part about being oblivious to certain things as a child – that your Dad wasn’t there camping during the day; that you weren’t really all that far from home on some of those trips. I have a couple of posts “muzing in my mind” about activities like that from my youth and my perspective now (or what I now know that Mom & Dad told us differently at the time!).

        We did not go camping, but my early childhood vacations were always at the same lake “up north”, so your post triggered many memories about those weeks each year.

        Good stuff 🙂

  7. Marie Abanga says:

    Great post, and l love and agree with the quote. I am actually proud to written my first STORY. Thanks for sharing all this Gail

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