Sanders: Raconteurs and Writers
I come from a long line of raconteurs and writers. My great-grandmother, Hattie Tillotson, wrote a lengthy story about when they moved from Cambridge, Story County, Iowa, to Cascade, Dakota Territory. They had land in Iowa and then established a farm and a good-sized orchard once they got settled after their move. They built a big house that often housed boarders and was always open to neighbors, friends and others they had only just met. Many was the time a meal was stretched so thin it nearly broke, but by adding more potatoes and another jar or two of canned goods, everyone was fed.
My grandma, Fern Wyatt wrote stories and poems. Each grandchild received several poems from her, usually on their birthdays. They were generally brief and rhymed, and they told the story of the birthday child. Gram’s sisters, Gladys Halls and Grace Stewart, wrote stories that relatives are finding as they go through boxes and scrapbooks. Now my dad and his brother Harold (Harry to the family) write, but more often, they tell stories. Each man is able to paint word pictures so realistic that it almost becomes your own memory. Harry’s daughter, Vicki, has made writing her life’s work. While mentioning only a small segment of the family writers, I do wonder if it is “in the blood,” as we so often say. I never knew my great-grandmother so at least she couldn’t have been an environmental influence.
Could there really be something to the blood thing? Back in the day, before Rhogam, I was born an Rh baby and required a near-total blood transfusion. Dr. Leeds pioneered the procedure for which he received national accolades from his peers. Hobart Huxford from Hot Springs, S.D., volunteered to be the donor. He was a blacksmith and now our sons are involved with that endeavor. One son builds cattle working chutes and anything else he wants to construct and the other son is a farrier. Did the blacksmith’s blood have any influence?
Harry and my dad have both been presenters at the Focus on Fall River County History Conference in Hot Springs over the years. (The next one is coming up on Jan. 20. Click on “events” at pioneer-museum.com for a registration form.) During each of these talks the audience has learned things, if they are young, or remembered their own experiences, if they are older. Topics have ranged from riding horses to attending an old country school, harvesting ice, construction of Angostura Dam, early telephone companies to the intricacies of rationing during World War II.
These brothers were obviously influenced by the past story tellers in the family and now that my generation is on the receiving end we have heard the old stories. It is reasonable to expect that the written tales closely follow the oral histories handed down through the generations.
In reality, various factors have influenced the family. Now I wonder how much of an effect my writing will have on the succeeding generations. ❖