After creating a list of questions about northeast Minneapolis, I took advantage of my new membership in the Minnesota Historical Society today with a visit to their library.
As I stumbled through a half-baked explanation to a patient librarian of what I was after, she typed in a few key words on her computer, turned the screen to me, and gave me a few second to scan a list of possible sources.
“Holy cow!” I almost shouted in that very quiet room. “Birdella Ross! She was my tenth grade English teacher.”
A few minutes later found me trying hard to maintain the demeanor of what I thought a professional researcher should look like when inside I was hard put to contain my excitement as I came across a folder with my name on it. Inside were the essays we’d been assigned over the course of two semesters…essays in which we explored our personal histories.
There, in handwriting that was so much more legible than my 70-year-old scrawl, were entries about how my maternal grandmother left her village in Poland at the start of WWI to immigrate to the USA. I read with fascination my mother’s WWII marriage to my dad. I read about the awful summer my folks remodeled our house, the summer we lived with a grandmother whose dislike of me, my brother, my mom and dad was palpable.
I’m not much of a one for believing in karma; but I’ve been playing around with the notion of a memoir for about five years now…lots of notes, not much that’s notable. And here, out of the blue, within five minutes this treasure trove of gems inside a cardboard archival box.
And suddenly I have a direction. I have material–mine and that of classmates. My central theme has something to do with growing up in a blue collar neighborhood in the second half of the 20th century.
By golly, this is going to be fun.