Edythe – Mining Your Family for Story Ideas

By Linda Kleczkowski, In Print Newsletter Editor/Website Administrator

GrammaMy grandmother, Edythe Evelyn Berkshire Liggett Johnson, was born on January 9, 1906 in Council Bluff, Iowa. Descended from good English stock, she was born third into a family of seven children. She grew up on a farm where they raised chicken, milked cows and tended to a very large vegetable garden and an orchard. Edythe grew up to become a school teacher and raised five children of her own. She died on November 28, 2000 at the age of 94.

To most people, I’m sure Edythe’s life seemed typical for that era in the Midwest but to me Edythe was an extraordinary woman. When the stock market crashed in 1929, Edythe was only 23 years old, married and had two children. When World War II broke out in 1939, Edythe and her family endured food rationing, air raid drills, and scheduled blackouts. Braving the stigma carried by divorce in the 1940s and 1950s, Edythe supported her five young children with a job at Time magazine.

Quite a few years before Edythe, my gramma, passed I had the foresight to record a few of her childhood stories with the intent of writing a family history someday. Unfortunately, my own life got in the way of that idea and gramma passed without my even transcribing the tapes. I do still have those recordings, however, and although I failed to capture enough of her life to warrant an entire memoir I can still immortalize some of her memories in a short story or a fictional novel.

I have also begun to encourage my own mother to start documenting some of her life stories. Not only will this be a wonderful gift for future generations of our family but with any luck it might inspire a story or two as well.

This blog is my fifth in the series complying with the In Print ABC Blog Post Challenge.