Archive | February, 2015

Interviewing Grammy and Pop Pop – What questions should a teenager ask?

12 Feb

By Bruce Summers, Summoose Tales

An Association of Personal Historian colleague recently asked, what are some sample questions a teenager can use to interview his or her grandparents?

Well this was right up my alley since I have been my family’s personal historian and amateur genealogist since 8th grade…

My daughter asked her grandparents – How did you meet?

20141003_143151 Jane and Tom on back patio in New Freedom

My son asked his grandfather – About his work and then follow-up questions about his family vegetable canning business?

IMG_4015 Superfine Limagrands

Then he asked me – Do you have that recorded?

I asked my grandmother – Don’t you get lonely after we leave? What was it like during [the Great Depression, during World War II]? Tell me about [rationing, volunteering with the Red Cross]?

20131110_212155 FDR 1 - the bread line

I asked my other grandmother – What was my grandfather like? What was it like to have to take over his business after he died (under age 50)? What was it like growing up in your hometown? How did you meet my grandfather?

img098 - Summers 100th - Caroline Stone Summers

Thomas Stran Summers, president 1945-1951

Tell me about your parents? Was it hard for you to move across country when you got married? Why did you move to (our small town from the city)? What was my dad like growing up? Can you tell me the story again about how he and his [brother (burned down the haystack across the street in the field)]?

What was my [grandfather like (if he is deceased)]? How is [Aunt (Mary)] related to us? What were your parents like? What were my [other great-grandparents] like? Where were they from?

Charles G. Summers, Jr., president 1923-1945Charles G. Summers, president 1865-1923

Other more current questions. What were you doing when [you heard about Pearl Harbor, that John F. Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated, you heard about 9/11]? Who were your heroes when you were growing up?

20131110_214517 MLK 4 Full length front

PS Advice – Take along a digital voice recorder or use the voice recorder app on your Smart Phone and record your interview.

PSS If your grandparents have photos or interesting pictures or “objects” or furniture, ask them about these or “Who’s in this picture?”

Related Blogs:

Show and Tell – At the Chichester Family Reunion

Picking Raspberries

What’s in your basement? Personal Historians want to know, but you might also be curious…

Summers One Hundred Years

“It’s not my dog!” and Random Acts…

6 Feb

  By Bruce Summers, Personal Historian, Summoose Tales and Board Member of the Association of Personal Historians

Random Acts of Kindness (RaOks) – a wee white dog ran across the street

in front of my car…

“It’s not my dog!” It’s my first day on the job, watching the kids (two young toddlers)”, she said as the mid-sized dog tugged strongly at the leash she was holding and the wee white dog scrambled back and forth across the road eluding the baby sitter and the toddlers while three cars paused, waiting to see where it would run next. I offered to hold the larger dog.

Toddler 1 – a boy – Do you know whose dog that is? [It’s yours I said]. The wee white dog ran up behind me and brushed my leg as I held the boxer-like dog. That one’s mine too, the boy added. His sister hovered nearby. Neither child looked older than about 3 years old. I remained still as the sitter slowly caught up with the wee white dog. Toddler 2 – a girl and her brother remained near. The wee white dog finally paused and allowed itself to be “caught”. The sitter put a leash on the wee white dog and said “thank you for stopping”. The sitter, the two toddlers, the two dogs, now both on leashes walked around the corner as I returned to my car and drove the last block to my home.

A presenter mentioned two words during a recent pre-retirement talk that my wife and I attended. These among many other useful words and tips shared – “Giving” and “Legacy”. I ponder now, how do these two words relate to RaOks? How often do I/ do we stop to reflect? How often does a “wee white dog” get loose and scramble across the road? I sat stopped in my car for a few minutes watching the wee white dog ramble back and forth around my car; it then across the road and back around the other two cars that had stopped. Finally the other two cars drove on.

I continued to watch and wondered; could she (the sitter) manage. Holding the boxer-like dog on a leash was a challenge, keeping her two toddler charges near – when they really wanted to chase and catch their wee white dog, was a challenge. Even when the other two cars departed, the wee white dog had no intention of stopping its romp. The sitter could not chase the wee white dog, a third challenge.

I pulled over out of the path of any traffic, and got out, “can I help”, I asked. “It’s not my dog…”. All this occurred a block from my house. It turned out I could help. The sitter’s fourth challenge… it was her first day watching the kids. A small chain of chaos had evolved quickly. I smiled to myself, sometimes we are in the right place at the right time to do RaOks; and they did teach me in Boy Scouts, “Do a good turn daily.”

My parents lost their own wee dog recently, not from it escaping and running across the street, but to a sudden sickness. Losing a dog can be life changing. My family, when I was young, lost our first dog, up in New York State, when we were visiting my grandmother. Like the wee white dog, it got loose, my brothers and I were young, though I was a bit older than these two toddlers. We advertised that we had lost our dog but no one found him and we did not see “Apples” again.

Later our second dog, “Blaze”, a large dog, a St. Bernard, would occasionally get loose. We would yell “here Blaze….!” Sometimes he would come back, and sometimes not. Often one of our neighbors would find or see Blaze rambling through their yard. They would catch Blaze or give us a call so we could come get him – their own RaOks. We, my three brothers and my parents, would be very happy to have our dog back. We were very happy we lived in New Freedom, that we had kind neighbors, and that we all looked out for each other.

As I reflect RaOks were common in my hometown. Maybe that’s why I stopped and then the other cars stopped. It could have been our dog. Sometime giving RaOks are just the sudden… right thing to do, but sometimes they are returning a favor, returning other RaOks, perhaps remembered only deep in our consciousness. We never know what impact, what legacy RaOks will have, but they are just the right thing to do.

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