Ten years ago, the famous author Tom Wolfe spoke at Ithaca College about writing. He was older and still wearing his famous, white suit. As if to answer a question that no one spoke, he said, as I remember, the problem with writing is you have to find stories. Every single one of you out there has a story to tell.
And like most authors, you can write that one story: fiction or non-fiction. But then, what are you going to do? Wait for something to come to you, inspire you.
The room was packed and everyone listened trying to find the writing secrets from this well-known author, the author of Bonfire of the Vanities and The Right Stuff. He continued, the problem is that after you write that one story, you have to go out and find other stories. One has to search them out, they don’t just appear. He then described how you do that: talk to people, study people in different places and in worlds different from your own.
I think stories walk into our lives every day but we have to pay careful attention. And sometimes wake up to the drama.
Here is a very short story.
There are years of questions and years of answers.
When I was a little girl sitting on my Grandmother’s stoop as summer dusk settled in, the old folks started talking over their coffee and Stella Dora cookies about Cora. Cora was my grandmother’s half-sister. “Yep, she went to California,” they remarked. And so I piped up, “Tell me the story.” They looked at each other, my grandparents, aunts, and father and said nothing.
So here it is, 2018…fifty years past that moment. A site called newspapers.com has many editions of the local newspaper from my hometown.
I decided to see what I could find out about my great aunt, Cora Tress. I found her as she was the subject of this article, pictured below: Daughter Incorrigible Father Causes Arrest. (Her father was my grandmother’s father who died in 1925!)
Cora was arrested by the police at her father’s request. He had no control over her and she had run away from home.
Subsequent articles report that Cora went before a judge who released her. She said her behavior was in response to her brother beating her up.. Later, Cora married and moved to California.
Bingo…the reason for the silence in the room. Because of course, back in the day, conflict, feelings were conversation non grata. I surmise that since I did meet the Uncle in question, that Cora must have been the odd (wo)man out and that is probably why I never met her or heard of her death.
I hope she had a good life…I am glad she escaped. I wonder if she is in one of the many pictures I have of nameless kin folk. That will require more study and observation…something for another day.