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Memoir Inspired Writing

Page history last edited by amber.pitts@spart1.org 12 years, 7 months ago

This page is designed to share the memoirs we have written in class as a result of our memoir unit of study.  Our course text, Units of Study is based on the underlying framework that what we write should be inspired by what we read. From immersing ourselves in a variety of well-written memoir and spending time in close study noticing author's craft, we have each tried our hands at writing our own memoir.  Please post yours here and specifically address "What have you read that is like what you are trying to write?"  In other words, let us know your mentor text(s) and any author's craft you were intentional about implementing.   *Please add your first and last name and the title and author of your text with your post. 

 

Memoirs We've Written and the Authors Who've Inspired Us

"Abner Creek" written by Dawn Mitchell

This memoir is a poem that was inspired by Ron Rash's poetry, specifically his poem, "Price Lake:  1961.  In my poem about Abner Creek I wanted to really capture not only the details of the specific place, but also the emotion and feeling behind why that place is important just like Rash did.  I also tried to use his concrete imagery in my work as well. 

 

Abner Creek,  1991

for Shawn

 

Pale like dirty dishwater,

and thin like my brother’s long legs,

running in slow loops, carving our land

with grainy banks and tree roots exposed.

 

Pockets deep enough for a few

small horny heads and bream,

filling up the green honey holes

swirling with summer’s catch.

 

Shallow enough so scrawny kids

with matchstick legs jammed in soggy sneakers

could walk upstream against the cool pull

of the current all day and not grow tired.

 

We loved that creek, my brother and I,

we loved it full of water moccasins and mud,

giant poplars and  pines towering over us,

sandy secrets burrowing below the bottom.

 

Coins, bottletops, and an old whiskey jug

found half buried in the murky bottom, rinsed

and filled with copper pennies shining inside

his closet like the glittering mica he poured out.

 

And the painted turtle’s nest we stumbled upon,

eyes wide as we watched the tiger-striped mama

carefully scratch sand over her rubbery eggs,

hind legs moving like a rhythmic backhoe.

 

We fished its banks armed only

with a rusty, worn-out  Zebco 33 rod

and the end pieces of week-old bread,

If we were lucky, a can of DelMonte corn.

 

We ate baloney and mustard sandwiches

 on warm white bread a few yards away

with water puckered hands, river-washed clean,

and Carolina clay crusted around our knees.

 

Been awhile since we played in Abner’s arms,

trudging home with a tackle box and farmer’s tans,

two twin shadows separated only at dark,

our laughter still caught in her currents.

 

 

Dawn Johnson Mitchell

 

 

"My Father's Eyes" written by Cathy Rode is written in response to hearing Eric Clapton's song, "My Father's Eyes", on the radio on a typically crazy morning before school.  I also was inspired to write a poem after reading Sandra Cisneros's book of poetry.  She has a craft for describing her family members with vivid imagery and using the personification throughout her writing. I wanted the reader to be able to appreciate the man my father truly is and how he has influenced my life and my daughter's life.  

 My Father’s Eyes

 

Ever since I can remember

I have wanted to be just like you

You taught me so much by the

Way you live life, and maybe

You never realized it then, but

You were always my hero.

 

All of us noticed your sacrifices

For the family, K-Mart shirts,

The Rambler and old vans, yet

Somehow you convinced us it was

All you ever needed.

 

Scout leader, Fireman, EMT,

Employee, businessman, father,

And husband, and still, you made

Us feel important.

 

You taught me how to ride my bike,

Fish, drive a car, and how to love.

You modeled honesty, fairness, and loyalty

Especially to the ones you love.

 

You always give more than you get

Never expecting anything other than the

Happiness of seeing us happy.

There will never be someone in my life

That could be the man you always have been...

My daddy!

 

Cathy Rode

 

My memior was inspired by Saturdays and Teacakes by: Lester Laminack. I can remember the days of taking my bike out all summer long and rarely seeing the inside of my house. There are still so many things that I would like to do with the ideas that I ahve below. This is a work in progress. I would really like to go deeper into each turn of my bike and big hills I conqured each day. But so far this is what I've got. I have truely seen how my kids feel now when I ask them to write a story about their life. It is hard to sit down and do in an hour and I have a whole lot more to write about. I think I will be a little easier on them from now on. I do have a drawing that I am having a hard time getting on the site that shows the way of my summer days and helps to really go along with the story so I am going to keep working on getting it to pull up with my writing.

 

Where the bikes go…

By: April Camp

 

This is my childhood, the big house at the top of the hill, just eight houses on the right from the start of Meadowbrook Lane. I was about 10 or 11 years old when I can remember all my summer routines. Each summer started out with the same old routine, bathing suits, towels, and back packs ready to go. But, of course, you can’t forget the most important routine of all, preparing my bike; checking the air in the tires, the oil on my chain, and of course my brakes. I did have many hills to travel along the way.

Every day started with me grabbing my packed back pack, and always a light jacket because it was always a little cold to start the days in Rhode Island, and heading out the door to meet my bike and ride the hill down to the start of Meadowbrook Lane. I was on my way to meet the girls, Sarah, Kate, and Alicia. We had all become friends when I moved to the area in fourth grade and then we became inseparable.

Foster Road was what liked us all together and allowed our parents to let us travel from one to house to another all summer long. Without Foster Road our summers would have never been. (Alicia’s dad was the only parent that didn’t work, so he was always willing to take us where we wanted, that is where our bikes could not take us.)

Each day we would all meet up, usually picking a new house each time, and begin our days of riding bikes, watching movies, usually Disney ones, and always finishing with a swim. We normally spent lazy, rainy days at Kate’s because she didn’t have a pool and there were no other kids on her street. My house was for the really hot days because my pool always stayed the coldest, or we would wait until mom went shopping because it only happened once a week, which food didn’t always stick around in my house for long. Sarah’s house was always filled with four because there were four kids in her family. So we usually found ourselves at her house around lunchtime each day. Alicia’s house was usually the final resting stop. There was a ton of kids in her street and her dad always had ice cream for us.

Alicia’s house was where I can remember most of our summer days being spent. There was a family (I called them the red-headed kids, there was too many to remember all the names) that lived across the street and they were the only ones with a built in pool. Everyone would always meet up there to finish off the day with fun pool games.

Most nights would leave us at someone’s house, our parents were use to having all four of us over when it came to sleepovers, it was easier to say yes then listen to us beg, we had gotten really good at. There was no splitting us up. So we tried to take turns, just to be sure not to upset our parents.

However, on the nights that we were not sleeping over at each other’s house my mom was very strict about my bike being in the driveway before she got home from work, 6:00 p.m. Unfortunately there were many nights that my bike didn’t make the trip home on Foster Road. It found itself in the trunk of a black 1989 Pontiac Grand Am with a very angry mother yelling at its owner. Even with a slight argument on the way home my bike always found itself leaving the next morning to conquer another day on Foster Road.

 

 

“The Good Ol’ Farm” written by Heather Yordy

As I read the memoir-like book, Shades of Blue, the characteristics of a memoir were what really drew me to the story - tracing familiar territory of Holden Beach, NC... the character revisiting a place of his past to reconcile wrongs and heal.  That influenced my development of my memoir piece.  Then reading Abner Creek only increased that desire to write about a special place.  Both pieces involved a lot of sensory imagery that I attempted to include in my short memoir.  As I sat down to write, instantaneously I was transported to the old farm in central Illinois that my grandparents owned... the good ol' farm.

 

 

I can still remember the smell.  It’s like freshly cut grass on a sunny summer day.  Like the smell of drying clothes coming from the dryer vent.  It’s like freshly baked cookies just out of the oven.  It smells like mothballs and old books.  Grandpa used to say the pigs “smelled like money” but I didn’t think so.

 

It tastes like meat loaf and mashed potatoes.  Silky-smooth home-made fudge.  The sweet and sour of freshly squeezed home-made lemonade that tickles your taste buds.  It tastes like cream-corn with too much cream that’s tough to swallow but you do it anyway.  It’s Grandma’s favorite side dish. 

 

It feels like the dust in the workshop that stuck to my sweaty arms as Grandpa created a wooden masterpiece.  Lamps, tables, whatever you wanted.  It feels like freedom as my brothers and I, far too young to drive, maneuvered the old Ford down the dirt road – but not on the black top – too young.

 

I can still hear the gentle whir of the machines Grandpa used in that woodshop.  It sounds like the hollow tones of the organ as Grandma practiced her Sunday morning hymns.  It sounds like the chirping of the crickets at nighttime that lull you to sleep.

 

I got to go back to it this summer.  The house is different, they added a wing.  The barn has fallen away and the machine shed is in disarray.  There’s no more clothes line out in the back.  No John Deere mower for us to ride and the good ol’ Ford has been towed away.

 

But I can still see it, the way it was in its good ol’ day.  I still smell and taste and feel and hear it.  The good ol’ farm where innocence ran free and there was food and love and life to the fullest. 

 

 

 

 

“When I was Young at Lake Greenwood” by Kelly Compton

 

When I was young at Lake Greenwood, we would drive down late Friday night after Daddy got off work. Kevin and I would be asleep in the back seat.

 

When I was young at Lake Greenwood, Grandma would have a table full of hot cheesy baked spaghetti, buttered Sunbeam BBQ bread and sweet Lipton tea.

 

After supper we always had to walk down to the pier to check the water out even though it was as dark as soot and we couldn’t see a thing.

 

When I was young at Lake Greenwood, we got up early and had fried eggs, crisp bacon, spicy sausage, and buttery sweet grits but before we could run to the water we had to wait thirty-minutes before swimming. Grandma always said we would get sick, if not.

 

Once we were in the lake, there was no stopping us.  We swam in a lake, that some days was so muddy it looked as thick as hot chocolate.

 

When I was young at Lake Greenwood we skied until our legs and arms felt like Jell-o or bounced on the Yellow Rocket until we couldn’t stand to be bounced or thrown off again, all while Daddy was trying his best to throw us off.

 

Afterwards we climbed back on the boat laughing as tears rolled down our cheeks at the fun we just had.

 

When I was young at Lake Greenwood I thought about going other places on summer weekends but there was no place like the little house on the lake front and that was enough.

 

Cammie Price                                                        The Miller House

 

After reading Katy Palmer's The Pink House, it instantly reminded me of my family.  The door was always opened for my brothers and I and our friends. Now that has changed to our spouses and even one small child in the clan now.  I would like to add more to this piece but need your help.  I would love to "spruce" it up some.  Here ya go:

 

The Miller House

 

            I absolutely loved growing up in The Miller House. I cherish those times living at home with my simple little family and our what was then a simple little lifestyle.  Growing up, dad had a job that allowed him to work from home and mom didn’t work. Therefore, they were always around!  I have two brothers, one older brother, Blair, and one younger brother, Bradley. For the most part, we all got along.  We went to preschool together and enjoyed summers at the pool.

            As we went off to elementary school, a few things did change.  Now we had after school activities that included dance, baseball, and soccer practice, along with spending Wednesday nights and what seemed like all day at church on Sundays. But after all of the homework was completed, the kids were cleaned, we all sat down for mom’s cooking. We enjoyed our simple weekends with each other.

            As we got older, the three of us were involved in more sports, dad changed jobs and had to be out of town and mom began working.  Blair and Bradley were forced to come to my dance recitals and I went to their baseball and soccer games.  When we went to Dorman High School, Blair really changed. He didn’t want his “little sister” riding in the car with him so he put our neighbor and myself in the back seat.  I was very proud to call him my big brother, but the feeling was not mutual. Then Blair graduated and went off to college and Bradley and I were both in high school.  Life then was no longer so simple. The Miller House quickly became a revolving door with friends and boyfriends/girlfriends coming over. Mom and dad liked having the extra company and was always a good host.

            We all went off to 3 different colleges and enjoyed our breaks coming home sleeping in our own bed and having a relaxing time at The Miller House. During this transition, we all got along better; there was more of a sense of understanding. We were proud of each other and our accomplishments.  Later, I got my new sister-in-law Kristen.  Four year later, I became aunt Cammie. Very soon after the grandbaby addition for my parents, I married my best friend Phillip.  Our simply little family has grown by 3 in the last 5 years.  Bradley has still not gotten married, however we are anxiously waiting having an addition to the Miller family.

            Now at family get togethers, we not longer encourage each other to have food fights, but now all of our attention is focused on little Price, the first grandchild. We enjoy having simple nights talking about all of our memories growing up.  I’m very lucky The Miller House is still standing and has open arms at all times.  It is a place where I feel like instantly takes me back and I am able to go whenever.  I look forward to establishing The Price House with my husband and family one day.

 

Kim Wells Memoir

I found an interesting quote fitting of the essence of memoir :

     "There are remises of storage places where you may leave or store certain things such as a locker or trunk or duffel bag... and this book [A Moveable Feast] contains material from the remises of my memory and of my heart. Even if the one has been tampered with and the other does not exist."

                                                                 Ernest Hemingway

 

     After reading  Traveling With Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd, I am captivated by the author's way of recognizing symbolism, using it ,and crafting it into her stories both personal and fictional. My own tendency in writing is to write metaphorically. ( I am embarrassed to say I think that way, too much it seems). For better or worse, it seems humans long for connections to make sense of life, just like students search for those connections to make meaning of learning. 

(P.S. suggestions for title welcome)

 

The Walk to School

 

     After a tumultuous third grade under a haggish school-matron.  After raps on the hand for talking in class. After pig-tail pulling battles with a blond- haired, blue-eyed, rivalry over ‘Eddie’. After designing blueprints of four-story mansions on notebook paper with my sure-to- be architectural partner, Timothy Crenshaw, I SURVIVED! Fourth grade went much better for me. My teacher was sweet, grandmotherly sweet, not like that Woman I left behind in third grade.

            I believed life was changing. Life wasn’t so bad. I could really begin to enjoy this PineStreetSchool scene. Who knew, I may have found myself a clique. Although in fourth grade I had never heard of a clique, much less knew what it meant. I only knew I was beginning to belong.

            The security of my newfound status in fourth grade was short-lived. At the end of fourth grade we moved across town to a new neighborhood, a new school, a new transportation method. “Uh-oh,” I wondered, “am I starting over? Backing up? Moving in reverse? Am I just lost in a perpetual swirl of finding my identity?” We moved that summer with plenty of time to get to know the neighborhood kids. I soon discovered the new house was roomy, warm, and welcoming, but it did not match my new school. Fifth grade at Jesse Boyd had no room for a lonely ten-year-old. The school was sterile and cold. Instead of welcomes, snubs greeted me. Adults and children both went out of their way to shun my family.

            Daddy had worked very hard to buy our new house. The time he had spent traveling every week was the sacrifice and this house on Hillbrook was the reward. We walked through the under-construction frame almost every weekend. Momma walked me down the hallway to my new room. At ten, I did not know how to imagine  South Carolina red-clay as a luscious lawn, a cement pad claiming to be a carport, and shallow brick foundation with wood frame walls as the grand home Daddy envisioned. If I did, I would have gone straight to my room and taken my perch. Staring out the soon to be windows where I would spend many hours studying and day-dreaming my destiny into reality.

            One room in our new house had set the neighbors on edge. Since Daddy traveled every week, he coveted time with me and Momma. He sliced out a 6x10 foot area off the kitchen floor plan for his office. The next-door-neighbors, through scuttlebutt and pretense of neighborly conversation, discovered Momma was a hairdresser. Without asking or verifying the stories, they petitioned the neighborhood association to stop Momma from maintaining a business at our residence. Embarrassment over the assumptions that made them look like asses created tension before we ever moved in. That December was frigid. Neighbors’ icy reception matched the temps of the season.

            My little sister and Christmas arrived within days of each other. January back to school was torrid. And babies, even well-bundled ones in heated automobiles, caught infections in cold weather. Momma couldn’t risk it, so she bundled me with heavy coat, mittens, scarf, and boots, when it rained. She kissed me with resolve, and sent me out the door to school. I started down our driveway walking the mile school. Nice neighborhoods allow children to walk to school. In cold weather, hopefully, nice neighbors would NOT allow it. Nice failed me. Nice drove right by, never looking back, never waving as they passed. In my ten-year-old mind I heard them say, “Don’t look as we go by. Maybe she will think we do not see her.”  I made excuses for them the first day. Maybe they didn’t have room. “One, two, three, four heads. Yes, that’s it. They did not have room for me,” I reasoned. The second day, I counted again. “One, two…why didn’t they stop? Didn’t they have an extra seat?” Third day. Counting heads. Again, they had room. Ten-year-old perception can be eccentric, but I knew a cold shoulder when I saw one. Many days passed with the same results. While I walked to school, my next door neighbors and my cross-the-street-neighbors rode by in the warmth of their carpool. The solace of my grand new bedroom sheltered my tears in private release. Momma never knew I cried. No one did.

            Eventually I settled into the neighborhood. I played Barbies with the girls who traveled to elementary school in the car. We studied together. We played hide-and-seek in the summertime and caught lightening bugs in jars, and wetrick-or-treated in the fall. After all, they didn’t drive to school, they were merely passengers. Loss of innocence happens when a child realizes for the first time, the world can be a cruel place. In the middle of daydreams, stretched out on clover in search of the four-leafed variety and wishing on stars, life splatters puddles of pain all over you. The trick is not to let it stain your clothes. Wash it out, use soap if you need to. But wear that dress proudly. It is life, the fabric of who you are.

 

 

My memoir piece is inspired by Rick Bragg's brother (and Dawn's Abner Creek). I started thinking about my brother and then recorded this memory. I tried to use some of the craft Bragg (and Dawn) and others have used like specificity with nouns and verbs. Some comparisons. And even the hypenated words Bragg was so effective with.  My ending is still in progress, but it will basically result in me following my brother everywhere...right to the end.  Title suggestions, well, any suggestions are welcome. Thank you, Carla Taylor.

 

          I’m eight years old – my brother is almost ten. I’ll follow him anywhere. I watch him cram his GI Joe Special into his front pocket and then charge the woodpile as if taking the stairs to Sunday School. I don’t have a pocket in front and I have to stuff my only black-haired Barbie into my waistband. Her sharp pointy feet dig into my thigh, but she feels secure. Legs and feet dangling just above me, Dean suddenly disappears. Just as suddenly, his head pops out from the barn ledge, “You comin’ or ain’t cha?”

        I mount the woodpile ignoring the spider-babies Dean stirred up. I find myself secure on top of the firewood, but can barely reach the tin edge of the barn’s roof. I can’t think how to pull myself up and apparently my brother reads my mind. He thrusts his hand down. I take it. He yanks, and I walk up the side of the barn ’til my feet, too, dangle over the edge. Dean gives one last tug, and I shoot forward scraping my tummy on the sharp edge.

        The tin roof feels cool to my knees and I want to lie down to see if it will cool my burning belly. No time though, Dean is side-stepping his way up the slanted roof. Again, I follow. At the back of the barn now, I can see where we abandoned our Big Wheels two days earlier to chase a lizard. “Well, men, this is the spot. I can see the enemy camp from here,” my brother whispers. I free Barbie from my waistband and hang her over the side, “Looks like we’re outnumbered. How will we surprise them?”

        I see my brother’s eye narrow in thought then widen with an idea. GI Joe rushes Barbie! “Quick, strap on your ’chute.” We put pretend parachutes on our soldiers and simultaneously launch them into the air. GI Joes hits the ground with a thud just below the enemy camp, an old tin pie plate Papa used to feed the kittens. Barbie smacks down on a rock, face-up, staring right at me. I bet she wishes she belonged to a little girl who had a sister and would take her shopping and on dates with Ken.

        For a moment, I think my brother and I will jump too, but instead he slides back to the woodpile. Good thing he has some sense or else I might have broken an arm or leg. I slither back down too, having already switched to my belly to lower myself to the stacked wood. I scrape my tummy again and nearly lose my balance dropping to the woodpile. Dean has waited for me, and it’s here that we strap on our chutes and glide to the ground. I land squatted like an archaeologist, my brother lands squarely on his feet and springs up, back flat against the barn. I flop facedown and army-crawl to his safe position. We slink our way to the back of the barn and crane our necks to spy the enemy camp.

 

 

Renee Phillips Memoir: After reading the book My Mama Had a Dancing Heart, I was inspired to write the following piece. I wanted to show a group of students how to use a mentor text to help you craft your writing. I used the title and repeating line of “My mama had a dancing heart”. I wanted to write about my daughter Hannah and how she loved to be rocked when she was little. She would bring her “lanky” and say “Rock it Mommy”.  So I used “Hannah had a rocking heart”. I also loved her use of compound adjectives and I was able to use them in my writing as well. In the 1st draft I did not use compound adjectives so I let the students help me revise so that we turned “plain” adjectives into compound adjectives. It still is in a very, very rough draft.

Hannah Had a Rocking Heart

By Renee Phillips

Hannah had a rocking heart. When she little she would bring her lanky to me every night or any time she was tired and say “rock it Mama”. That heart-tugging request was impossible to say no to. Hannah had a rocking heart.

She would climb in my lap and snuggle with her blanket wrapped tightly around her. She always had that just bathed baby wash smell that I can still remember today. Hannah had a rocking heart.

As we would rock, the rhythm of the chair going back and forth, back and forth made a bedtime lullaby that always put Hannah to sleep and would sometimes cause me to drift off as well. Hannah had a rocking heart.

Even when she was older and her feet were past my knees, that late night or early morning rocking would help to sooth away the school teacher stress and mother of three worries. Hannah had a rocking heart.

Sometimes even now when the weather is just right we will sit in the swing on the front porch and “rock”. She still brings her lanky out with her even though now it barely covers her shoulders. Those late afternoon times bring back such sweet memories and often she will drift off to sleep. Hannah still has a rocking heart.

 

THE BIG MOMENT

     Party hats, horns, celebrating, and “The Bubbly” is the typical way we always brought in a new year until New Year’s Eve of 1993.  However, this year was a very special and the most memorable night ever. It was a cold bleak winter’s night as we were getting ready for the birth of our first child. With such excitement, the time had finally arrived. 

     Was it really the big moment already? We weren’t sure, even as I began to have severe pains in perfectly round gigantic stomach. My husband kept saying, “Are you sure? “In a panicky voice because this was our first child experience. We kept running into each other as we grabbed the bags and making sure we weren’t forgetting anything.  We shot out the door with such mixed emotions of uncertainty, fear, and excitement all at once.

     After arriving at the hospital, true panic took over! Our baby’s heart rate began to drop rapidly, putting her into fetal distress and us into a total nightmare state of mind.  However, we all were in great hands and the doctor performed an emergency c-section in just the knick of time.  He lifted her up for us to see, as she was frantically crying her first breath.  We were so relieved and spastic!! I’ll never forget the sound of that little/big cry because it truly felt like a boulder crashed onto my chest at the sound of my little girl’s sweet cry. She had pretty, pink cheeks and such a perfectly round, bald head.  We were so thrilled to see our little girl, which we had patiently anticipated for nine months.  We loved her at first sight!

     Finally, it was day three in the hospital January 3, 1994 and now was the big moment for reality to kick in –going home with our new baby.  It was bitterly cold, as we approached the car to get it.  She was so bundled we could not even buckle her in the car seat! So, I began to shed layers of pink blankets off of her, and we were a nervous wreck driving so cautiously with our new baby girl.  We were so thrilled to arrive home, and begin a new year with the best gift of all- Ashton. 

     Ever since 1993, we have celebrated New Year’s Eve with party hats, horns, and “The bubbly” in a whole new way.  We celebrate our little girl’s special birthday with special memories year after year.

--Kim Sutherland

   I read a poem to my class earlier in the year. I can't tell you where I found it for sure, but I think it was a poetry book about basketball. The line "I remember" was repeated over and over. I decided to write an "I remember" poem about my grandma who passed away 19 years ago. Even though I was only 8, I still have very vivid memories of her and the things we did together.

I Remember

I remember her black, white and yellow dress. It looked like a bee but it was my favorite that she had.

I remember going to keep her company on Tuesday nights when Papa had Lions Club. Little did I know it was to call someone if anything were to happen.

I remember sneaking one chocolate chip cookie after another from her cookie jar. I ate so many that day that I got sick while mom shopped in Community Cash.

I remember Smokey being hit by a car and her insisting Preacher Crocker perform the funeral. I didn’t know that Preacher Crocker would be performing her funeral a short while later.

I remember watching soap operas on CBS with her. Looking back, I know that if she knew that sin was really taking place in the world, we would have lost her even sooner.

I remember her 50th wedding anniversary party. It seems as if there were a lot of us there but if only she could have seen the family grow since then.

I remember dropping my Bible off the pew during a prayer while sitting with her in church. I cringed because I knew she was angry but you only placed your hand on my thigh so I would stay still.

I remember the Christmas at your house that you weren’t there. Maw Maw Peartree kept you company in your hospital room, and we called to sing Christmas Carols.

I remember that next Christmas that you weren’t there. This time, we couldn’t call to sing.

I remember the Sunday morning I was to be baptized. She was gone, but Mama said, “Ma-Ma would be so proud of you!” and my heart sang.

One day, I will remember writing your name as “the late” in my wedding program. I picture you there in your yellow, white and black dress.

One day, I will remember the magical day that my first child is born, hopefully to be your names sake. (Ma-Ma- you didn’t give me much to work with Mavis Clementine!)

One day, I will remember sitting right where I did when we honored your life. I will have tears of joy knowing that you and he are praising your Father again- Together.

I will always remember.

Lori Milan

January 28, 2010  

 

Amber Pitts

 

The Time My Sister Almost Drown

            Thinking back I can still remember that summer night at the church swimming party. It was on of those hot summer days where the warm air hung heavy on you like it was giving you a hug. I had waited all day to go to that swimming party and I had asked my mom about 500 times if we were ready to go yet. Finally, my mom got all of our swimming gear and loaded my sister and I into the car.

            All of the kids were splashing and swimming in the cool night air. I remember holding the side of the pool and going under to see how long I could hold my breath. When my lungs felt like they would burst I’d pop up and ask my mom how long I had stayed under. After a while my mom had moved over to visit with the grown ups and left me in the shallow end of the pool. I remember trying to walk closer and closer to the edge to see if there was a point that my toes would no longer scrape the bottom of the pool. Then I knew I’d be in the deep end and if I got caught in the deep end, I’d be in trouble!

            Out of the corner of my eye I remember seeing my sister walking closer to the edge of the deep end. She slowly peeked around to see who was watching her, those three year old eyes shining with mischief in the late day sun. She began to take off her bright orange swimmies and she dove into the deep end of the pool. No second glances, not hesitation, she just jumped in and like a weight she began sinking towards the bottom.

            I did not know what to do next, my brain had froze just like when my dad would ask if I was telling the truth. I looked towards my mom, but she was lost in grown up conversation. I knew what I had to do and I swam as fast as my seven year old legs could carry me. In that moment I didn’t think that I could lose my only sister or get grounded for life by going into the deep end, I thought only of saving my sister’s life.

            It seemed to take an eternity for me to reach the other side of that bobbing rope that separated the shallow end from the deep end. Once I was finally there I dove under and looked through stinging eyes to find my sister’s blue bathing suit. I grabbed her arm and pulled her up to the surface. We swam towards the ladder, her not really doing much of the swimming, and we climbed out. By this time the grown ups had seen what was going on and they all ran over to us to make sure that we were alright.

            When we have one of those hot summer days, one of those days where the warm air feels like it’s giving you a hug, I think back on that night when we had the church swimming party and the time I saved my sister’s life. I truly feel that I did save my sister’s life that night and by doing so I also saved the person that has become one of my best friends.

 

Kimberly's Memoir:  My memoir was inspired by Owl Moon by  Jane Yolen.  While I was reading the memoir, I felt like I was there in the woods with him.  I wanted to paint Sma that same picture of his birthday.  

                                                            "The Perfect Cake" 

Things To Do!!!

          Make pbjs. Check

          Tie balloons to mailbox. Check

          Fix centerpiece. Check

          Mix lemonade. Check

          Kiddy Table. . .  Check, Check, Check.

         

          The morning was such a blur; you were at your Granma and Papa’s house while Daddy and I rushed to get everything ready.  I don’t think either one of us realized how special this day would be to both of us.  Little did we know that we would remember your smile and the gleam in your eye on this day for a long, long time.

          I was so nervous all week; your cake had to be perfect.  I searched for weeks to find the perfect baker. I then searched the internet for days to find the perfect cake design.  While we waited our anticipation grew.  That morning the cake arrived, scared, anxious, and excited I turned the big white cake box around and there it was.  Wow, all you see was a huge 3-D monkey wearing a Clemson jersey, our favorite team, crawling up beautiful green vines that were growing up two layers of chocolate filled cake.  My mouth just dropped, it was perfect.  I couldn’t wait for everyone to see it.  Sam, your cake was perfect just right for my little monkey.

          Everyone was starting to arrive at the house.  Our single family home was busting at the seems with family and friends who were anxious to see you dive into you first birthday cake.  We all gathered in the kitchen, you were sitting in the center of a small kiddy table surrounded by your friends. You looked like such a big boy sitting there, not in a high chair.  I started to feel a little overwhelmed.   Everyone else was circled around kitchen waiting to see what kind of damage you were about to exert. The candle was lit, and everyone started to sing.  As we were singing “Happy Birthday”, it hit me this was your 1st Birthday – you are ONE!  And then the tears started to build up.  Right then it happened you reached for the brightly lit candle. All of a sudden in the middle of the song everyone yells NO!  It scared you so; you stopped in mid reach, like you have just been caught.

          As we waited to see what you would do next, you smiled at me as to ask is it ok?  I just smiled back and said go ahead.  At that moment you threw both hands into the face of the monkey.  And just like that - the perfect cake was sampled, smashed, slung, and flung within seconds.

          As the years go by I know I won’t remember what you wore, the presents you received or even the details of your birthday cake, but what I will remember is the smile on your face, the gleam in your eye when we sang “Happy Birthday” for the 1st time.

 

                                                                    Love you, my little monkey,

                                                                             Mom

 

-Kimberly Barnette

 

 

Memoir Posting by Joan Green:

 

Below I have posted my memoir. It is a "work in progress." One mentor text I used was Lester Laminack's Saturdays and Teacakes. I noticed how he repeated the phrase, "Every Saturday..." I used the repeating line of "Grandmother's house" to emphasize the importance of the place. Another thing I noticed was how Laminack doesn't tell you about his grandmother, but lets us find out for ourselves through the narrative the kind of person she was. That is also something I want to achieve although I think I have quite a ways to go to do just that.

 

 

Grandmother’s House

 

     I grew up in a house beside my grandmother’s house. My sisters and I loved to visit her as often as our mom would let us. We begged and pleaded until mama would finally just say, “yes, you can go, but don’t stay long.” I hated those words. I wanted to stay there a long, long time.

Grandmother’s house was a big, old, white farmhouse with a porch that went almost around the whole house. There were huge trees that shaded the entire yard. Flowers bloomed from spring until fall. Pecans littered the ground every year.

 

     Grandmother’s house was where we were always welcome. If she was cooking, she would let us help. We especially liked to squeeze biscuit dough between our fingers; the sour smell of buttermilk clinging to our nostrils. We even liked helping her wash dishes. For some reason, it never felt like work when we helped grandmother.

 

     Grandmother’s house was where we played our favorite game of “dress-up.” There were so many wonderful things to wear. She had beautiful dresses, shawls, gloves and hats! She had wonderful hats! All colors and sizes and shapes and some had veils and some had feathers. We loved those hats!

 

     Grandmother’s house was where all of my aunts and uncles and cousins came every summer. They arrived in their station wagons from far away places to spend one or two weeks with all of us. When they came, everyone came. The house pulsed with life. There wasn’t a room that wasn’t filled to overflowing. On Sunday there was a huge dinner on the front lawn and even second and third cousins came.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturdays and Teacakes is one of my favorite memoirs written by Lester Laminack.  He writes about riding his bike to his grandma’s house every Saturday and spending time with her and eating teacakes.  This book takes me back to the Saturdays that I use to spend with my Daddy.  I borrowed Lester’s title and added my own touch. 

 

 

Saturdays and Doughnuts

By:  Bonnie Cumbo

 

                Life was so simple back then.  Instead of being entertained all day by Direct TV, video games, or my IPod, I looked forward to a day with my Daddy and his “errands”.  I’ve always loved the idea of going somewhere, and before I became a teenager, I loved going anywhere with him, especially on Saturdays.  We would take off the trash, go and get the oil changed, or have his tires rotated.  These are things I avoid now.  At the garage, we would have to hang out and talk to some old man my Daddy worked with, and possibly get a coke out of the machine.  After about thirty minutes to an hour we would be done.  Then we would go across the street to Krispy Crème Doughnut shop.  We would plop down on one of the vinyl blue plastic covered stools.  I always got the cream filled doughnut with chocolate on top.  That was the “icing on the day”.  For a young school aged girl, that was the best way to spend a Saturday.  Now that I’m forty, and my Daddy is gone, I realize that the time we shared, and conversations we had, were the real treat of the day.  Quality time with a loved one is the best gift in life. 

 

Place Based Memoir by  Martha Vest

 

 

Cynthis Rylant's The Blue Hill Meadows served as inspiration for my place based memoir.  Rylant's sweet story "A Much-Love Dog" warmed my heart.  In this story of her dog, she uses much dialogue, using childrens' vocabulary and happy expressions of joy.  This real-life dialogue drew me in and brought back memories of when I was small girl.

 

 

 

 

The Creek

Martha Vest

 

 

 

 

    "Girl, where have you been all afternoon?", Mama asked again.

 

 

    " You know where me and Eve have been, Mama."

 

 

     "You girls are ten now and you need to play with dolls or dress-up with my old gowns and jewelry like your sisters."

 

 

     I turn my head so she won't see, then roll my eyes around and let my neck bobble a little for my effect.  Mama never did understand the draw of the creek that ran through our back yard and would remind me from time to time that the smell from the creek was probably from people's sewers.  I never believed that, wouldn’t believe it, and drank from the creek everyday just to prove her wrong.

 

 

     A little creek, just a tiny branch of Lawson's Fork Creek, that cut through my back yard.  It did have a smell, well, sort of, but that was my smell.  From Easter Break through Halloween, that perfume remained, even after a good scrubbing.

 

 

     Me and Eve...why did Mama care so much about me saying "Eve and I" like we were some old schoolteachers or something? 

 

 

“Nobody really talks like that.”

 

 

“We do, and when you’re grown you’ll be glad I made you.”

 

 

Anyway, Me and Eve liked to sit in the creek and let the stream cover our legs and feet and we would fish. The stick and yarn and worms never worked much. We used little nets and pails and we waited and captured tiny little somethings that darted past.  Never did know the name of those little fellows. 

 

 

But the real treasure was crawdads. 

 

 

"Eve, I told you...you have to go mighty slow and easy when you turned those rocks over and then quick as a blast scoop with the bucket."

 

 

  We admired them more now that we’d been to the new fancy dancy expensive restaurant that opened near Hillcrest Mall. 

 

 

     "Mart, you think these are baby lobsters? And do you reckon the restaurant would want to buy them from us? A quarter a piece and we would be rich."

 

 

    Think of the bags and bags of rock candy and green apple Bazooka stowed away in our boats floating down to the delta.

 

 

    The red clay stains, permanently scabbed knees, and the Fork’s scent would fade each year as I dreamed of a princess costume and Mama would get her girl back.

 

Lindsay Blanton

Where I'm From - inspired by the mentor text "Where I'm From" by George Ella Lyon

I've also wanted to write my own poem and now I've have had a chance to do it!

 

Where I’m From –

 

Peach Trees and Sunny Slopes

 

 

I am from peach trees and sunny slopes and a house that was and still IS a home on Webber Road.

 

 

I am from getting ready for church on Sunday mornings, Sunday dinners with family and always knowing we would have fish on Fridays.

 

 

I am from babydolls with names I would name my own children someday, Barbies with the most exciting lives, Strawberry Shortcake and playing teacher. 

 

 

I am from vacations at Myrtle Beach that made me want to be a mermaid and later on a marine biologist, summers at the peach shed and traveling for the holidays to see loved ones.

 

 

I am from side ponytails, big perms, jelly bracelets on my arms and pink jellies on my feet.  Sleepovers with girlfriends, eating too much and staying up all night.

 

 

I am from too many crushes to mention, dreams of a New Kid being my husband and always wanting to be Cinderella.

 

 

I am from 4-wheelers, bicycles and trampolines, building forts in the backyard and running down a slip-n-slide on a hot day.

 

 

I am from playing with a younger brother, boy cousins, birthdays at the pool and Clemson games in the Fall.  Go Tigers!

 

 

I am from old scrapbooks where pictures tell me about the past, my family, and memories that live in the minds of those of us who were there.

 

 

I am from loved ones that have passed but live on, parents that I think hung the moon, raised me with kisses, hugs, I’m proud of you, and most of all, love.

 

This Man 

 

When I met this man who lived in Greenville, I wasn’t sure I was ready to start over. I had been through pains and sorrows and wondered if I would ever find my best friend and soul mate.

When I met this man who lived in Greenville, I was amazed at his charisma. He had a feeling about him of fun and adventure. But I said, "This will be fun. I have to just let it come as it comes".

When I met this man who lived in Greenville, I allowed myself to open to something that had been closed for so long. I allowed the barrier to drop just enough to enjoy what fun he had for us.

When I met this man who lived in Greenville, I never knew that I would have the time of my life. I experienced so many more things that I never dreamed. Concerts, belly laughs, drives up north to meet family, and northern lingo (that now I understand).

When I met this man who lived in Greenville, I realized what others were saying when they talked about meeting and finding the one who is your soul mate, your best friend.

When I met this man who lived in Greenville, God showed me what it meant to love and be loved. To trust and be trusted. I have found the one for whom my soul loves.

When I met this man who lived in Greenville, who would have known that simple cool summer July night at Falls Park would have led to a man on one knee who said "Will you marry me?"

 

Amber McDonald

This was inspired by Cynthia Rylant's When I was Young in the Mountains. In using the first repeating line I just wanted to recount a few memories of when I first met my husband.

 

 

By Sarah Stephanof: My memoir is inspired by Fried Butter: A Food Memoir by Abe Opincar (specifically the first memoir in Chapter 3 where he talks about his Aunt Miriam). Opincar's memoir of his memories of his old Aunt Miriam making food and then no longer being able to because of declining health reminded me of my grandmother. I tried to model my memoir after Opincar's style of vividly describing the food and then describing his feelings about the person. Here goes:

Comat. So small a name for so long a process.

I never actually watched her make comat.

It was only after she died that I watched my mom and aunt labor through the arduous task.

Roll tiny balls.

Flatten one out.

Butter it.

Flatten.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

And that's just the bottom layer.

Never would I attempt this seemingly monumental task.

Yet she labored in love often to create this piece of my heritage.

Mix leek and cottage cheese.

A pungeant aroma fills the air. How many times had she smelled this very same smell?

She was upset at Christmas because was no longer able to make comat. Little did I know how physically demanding the process was. Now, in her honor my aunt and mom did the work for her. It was like a little window to her heart.

Sometimes I questioned her love or rather her method of showing it. Unbeknownest to me she was loving us all through rolling and flattening and buttering.

Rolling and flattening and buttering.

Comat.

So small a word.

So small a woman.

So big a heart.

My grandmother.

Let me know what you think! I'm playing around with the layout and spacing and I am also not sure of my verb tenses

 

Crystal Weathers My Memoir was inspired by When the Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant This is a story about a large family who live in two different places and they come together to visit once a year. It talks about packing up the family and driving all day and night to see the other family. I especially like the sleeping scene where the little girl sits up awake. She talks about "all the new breathing in the house" We can almost hear all the snoring taking place as was seen from the mouths of relatives that were drawn open. In the end the family was sad that they were leaving but comforted in the fact that there was next year.

 

 

 

When the Cabaniss' Came

 

by Crystal Weathers

 

          All the bags were packed and it looked like we were going on a six month cruise around the world. We had enough "blasted stuff", as my dad called it, for four families. But my mom didn't care; she was going home, home ot North Carolina, where her family lived.

 

          When I was almost two years old we moved from North Carolina to Florida. My dad had a new job and it meant leaving the only place they had ever lived to go to what must have seemed like a third world country. But all of that didn't matter today, we were going "home" for two glorious weeks of hugs, kisses, eating, and talking, and talking, and talking.

 

          "Get up," my mother whispered. "It's time to go." It was midnight and my dad was already in the car with the windows rolled down and a ciagrette in his mouth. He was ready to hit the road. He figured if we left at midnight that no one would be on the road. But I really believe he left at midnight because he knew we would sleep for at least six hours before he started hearing, "I'm hungry, I've got to go to the bathroom, are we there yet, she's touching me, she won't let me lay down." And now that I am an adult with children of my own, I can't blame him. Then when he had heard enough and no cigarette would help, he would utter those famous words, "do I have to pull over?" Of course we knew it was a bluff because he was going to make good time. He would boast to all the men, "made it in twelve hours, thirteen minutes and three seconds." Of course he did and if we had all been boys we would have made it in even less time than that, but girls can't pee in a cup while riding in a car going faster than the speed of light. "going to make good time."

 

          Well, we'd finally get there and my mom's sisters would be on the front porch waving and crying. And that would begin our two weeks of sleeping on the floor, palettes, as they called them, next to cousins you hardly knew. Eating meals with everybody and his brother who wanted to know everything about you in two sentences or less. And listening to my parents about how they missed living in North Carolina and how they wanted to come home.

 

          All too soon our two weeks would up. We'd pack those same bags with all of our "blasted stuff" and wait until midnight when the return ride would be filled with tears and sorrow of leaving a home that was so dear and would be so far away.

 

          "Get up," my mother whispered. "It's time to go."

 

 

Memoir Writing by Kimberly Trott

                                                           

 

 

                                                            Train Station

 

 

            I really thought nothing of the dream the night it happened.  Nightmares had become a part of my normal sleep pattern for years.  That spring morning I awoke with an explosion of bright white light going off in my head and a body covered in sweat.  That was a little unusual.   Night terrors I was use too, but the white light was new.   I hadn’t had a nightmare, but a most unusual dream that night.  It was what I would later think of as a “religious experience.” 

              As I entered the huge rotunda of the train station I noticed the floors were a creamy white marble in which bolted benches lined the room for non-existent passengers.  Oddly, I was the only one there.  I didn’t think any thing of it.  Upon entering the station I noticed in the distance a very wide flight of around eight steps leading to a platform in which a massive wall of windows lined the rear of the rotunda.  Even though I noticed the windows I could not see outside them.  I carried a small suitcase as I entered the train station and recall that I was there to leave but had no idea as to where I was going.  It was an exhilarating feeling, one of both peace and freedom.  I just knew I was leaving.  What was I escaping from I had no idea at the time.  I wonder now.   I look back now and can see its meaning so clearly. 

            The symbolism within the dream is so strong now that it still amazes how incredible the human brain is in its comprehension of our well being and inner most thoughts.  As I started to walk toward the empty ticket counter I passed a bench on my right.  A man was sitting there with his back towards me. I hadn’t noticed him before.  All I could tell about him from this position was that he was wearing a white garment and had long dark wavy hair.  As I passed behind him he spoke to me…. telepathically.  I never saw his face or his mouth.  As I looked at the back of his head his words filled my mind and the room became engulfed in a bright white light and I could not see him anymore but instantaneously I understood two things.  First, instinctively without him telling me who he was I new him by his voice and the words he spoke, and secondly he spoke to my mind these words which I have not forgotten, “Why do you search for answers when you know the truth?”

            I awoke sitting straight up in bed and I mean it was like a bolt of lightening had hit my body.  I sat up like I had been electrocuted. Wow, I thought that was so weird; I had never had a dream like that.  I did think about the dream and the meaning of those words that spring day but they made no sense to me at the time.  By the end of the day, I had forgotten about it like all dreams.  It would only be later that the meaning of the words would be made clear. “Why do you search for answers when you know the truth?”    

 

 

 

 

Comments (1)

Dawn Mitchell said

at 7:45 pm on Feb 1, 2010

Hey cammie ! I like this and love the last paragraph .. I wonder what it would be like if you made it into a poem... I see something like a shape poem which is crazy, but somehow to show how the house was small before yall came along and then now with all of the people and family it grew and got larger... Amber

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