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Posts tagged ‘personal historian’

Questions, Questions, and More Questions

April 3, 2015

Susan Marg

Continuing to work my way through the recommendations of the Association of Personal Historians on books with guidance on preserving one’s life or family history, I picked up a copy of To Our Children’s Children by Bob Greene and D.G. Fulford. First published in 1993, it continues to be helpful and inspiring. There are about 5 questions on each page of the two hundred-page book.

Illustration by: © iqoncept

Illustration by: © iqoncept

The first section covers the facts, just the facts, ma’am.

The facts include your name, gender, date of birth, and place of birth. They deal with basic data on your parents, your grandparents, your spouse, and your children.

Just to spice up the details, unless you’ve given up salt, there are questions on being right-handed or left-handed, near-sighted or far-sighted, and overweight or underweight.

Subsequent sections deal with all of the above in much more detail. Some of the many other topics addressed are the neighborhood where you grew up and the community where you live now, your education and career, your favorite holidays and celebrations, your hobbies and vacations, and your personality and life philosophy. Politics and history are also noted with questions that begin with: “Where were you when…?” For extra credit, the authors suggest answering the “hard” questions: Whom do you trust? Whom do you envy? What do you regret?

When working on a life or family history, I prefer to let the client dictate those areas on which he or she wants to focus. One memory often leads to other memories, and many more questions arise. Different subjects surface. Themes emerge. Still, when the going gets tough and nothing seems to move the project forward, I’m glad I have a copy of To Our Children’s Children.

© 2015 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

Happiness is Being Part of a Family

March 25, 2015

Susan Marg

Charles M. Schultz rhapsodized, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” Comedian George Burns joked, “ Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”

Since so many life histories and memoirs are about family, I thought it’d be fun to find some quotes about those whom we know best. I mean, if we can’t laugh at our family, who can we laugh at – besides ourselves?

A family is a unit composed not only of children, but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold.

Photo by: KIDS – © everett225

Photo by: KIDS – © everett225

  •  Ogden Nash

No amount of law enforcement can solve a problem that goes back to the family.

  •  Edgar Hoover

Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops.

  •  Cary Grant

I know it’s a cliché, but the whole family is just whacked. I mean, we’re all out of our minds. They’re the funniest, most eccentric bizarre people I’ve ever met, my siblings.

  • Dana Carvey

To each other, we were as normal and nice as the smell of bread. We were just a family. In a family even exaggerations make perfect sense.

  • John Irving

Your basic extended family today includes your ex-husband or -wife, your ex’s new mate, your new mate, possibly your new mate’s ex and any new mate that your new mate’s ex has acquired.

  • Delia Ephron

There is no such thing as fun for the whole family.

  • Jerry Seinfeld

I think it’s fascinating that I receive attention for what people perceive to be a level of manliness or machismo, when amongst my family of farmers and paramedics and regular Americans, I’m kind of the sissy in my family.

  •  Nick Offerman

I looked up my family tree and found out I was the sap.

  •  Rodney Dangerfield

If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.

  •  George Bernard Shaw

So clear out your closets and make your family skeleton dance by writing a life or family history.

Oh, What a Doll!

December 14, 2014

Susan Marg

You can buy a Madame Alexander doll wherever fine toys are sold. Saks Fifth Avenue, for example, has a wide selection from babies to ballerinas, including Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious Cloth Dolls. Or, you can buy a vintage Madame Alexander doll on E-Bay.

A Russian Madame Alexander doll from the International Series. Photo by: Jennie Ivins

A Russian Madame Alexander doll from the International Series. Photo by: Jennie Ivins

Beatrice Alexander, the founder and namesake of the doll company, began her business from her kitchen table in Brooklyn, New York in 1923. The daughter of Russian immigrants, she learned her craft by the side of her father who operated the first-of-its-kind doll hospital.

Initially the Madame Alexander Dolls were homemade from cloth, but the business soon expanded. In the 1930s, Alexander added lifelike details. With synthetics introduced in the 1940s, she began using plastic to create vinyl heads and hair that could be styled.

In the 1950s advertisements touted various models:

Madeline – fully jointed at wrist, shoulder, hip and knee for pretty posing.

Kate Smith’s Annabelle – with the pixie look.

Rosebud – soft plastic baby with voice and moving eyes.

Maggie Walker – walks where you lead her.

Dryper Baby Doll – let her drink, change her real Dryper pantie pad insert.

Alexander believed that dolls could be used to educate and created collections based on historic events, literature, music, art and film. Some of the well-known personages on whom she based her designs include Jacqueline Kennedy, Coco Chanel, the Dionne Quintuplets, and Queen Elizabeth and her daughters (at the royal family’s request). A Scarlett O’Hara doll is housed at the Smithsonian.

My mother received a Madame Alexander doll on her eighth or ninth birthday. It was the height of the depression, so my mother wonders how her parents had the money for such a wonderful gift. She still exclaims, “Oh, such a beautiful doll.”

As a personal historian I believe a favorite plaything can fill a sleigh with happy memories. What are some of yours?

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

Start Laughing, and Keep Going

December 1, 2014

Susan Marg

Planes_trains_and_automobilesDid you ever have a Planes, Trains, and Automobiles experience during the holidays? The 1987 movie starring Steve Martin and John Candy has become a cult classic, almost always topping the list of best Thanksgiving movies.

Steve Martin’s character is trying to return to his family in Chicago from New York City, following a meeting right before the national holiday. It’s snowing, and his flight is diverted to Wichita due to a blizzard. Due to circumstances beyond his control, this uptight and stressed out businessman is paired with John Candy’s character, a character to be sure, who personifies a oafish affability. In addition to the vehicles mentioned in the movie’s title, together they get on a bus, hail a cab, and hop in a truck for what becomes a three-day journey, squabbling and quarreling all the way home. It’s a comedy, bittersweet despite the pranks and farce.

Certainly, you’ve been in some situations that you’d just as soon forget. But don’t. Instead, write them done. They can be an enjoyable complement to your description of family rituals and holiday rites in your memoir or life history, and we’ve all been there – the time when the turkey was undercooked, the presents didn’t arrive, or the car wouldn’t start.

As Martin says upon reaching his destination, “As much fun as I’ve had on this little journey, I’m sure one day I’ll look back on it and laugh.” He continues, “Oh, God. I’m laughing already.”

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

Award for Ask Me Anything

November 20, 2014

Susan Marg

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Linda F. Radke, Five Star Publications, Inc.;

Email: info@FiveStarPublications.com

Susan Marg, Cowgirl Jane Press; Email: suemarg@san.rr.com

ASK ME ANYTHING Wins Coveted Royal Dragonfly Book Award

CHANDLER, AZ (November, 2014) – The judges of the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards contest, which recognizes excellence in literature, have spoken, and ASK ME ANYTHING by Susan Marg and Marie Rudisill placed in the Biography/Memoir category.

“Winning any place in the Royal Dragonfly Contest is a huge honor because in order to maintain the integrity of the Dragonfly Book Awards, a minimum score is required before a First or Second place or Honorable Mention will be awarded to the entrant – even if it is the sole entry in a category,” explains Linda Radke, president of Five Star Publications, the sponsor of the Dragonfly Book Awards. “Competition is steep, too, because there is no publication date limit as long as the book is still in print.”

For a complete list of winners including all first and second place and honorable mention recipients, visit http://www.FiveStarBookAwards.com and click on “Winners.”

To learn more about Five Star Publications, celebrating 29 years of doing business in Chandler, Ariz., access http://www.FiveStarPublications.com, email info@FiveStarPublications.com or call 480-940-8182.

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Marie Cover 5 EAsk Me Anything is the story of the amazing life of Marie Rudisill, also known as the Fruitcake Lady from her appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.   Well into her nineties, she became a television celebrity, going mouth-to-mouth with anyone who asked her a question or sought help with a problem. Susan says, “It was great working with Marie, a lot of fun. She always had an answer on the tip of her tongue.”

Ask Me Anything, ISBN 978-0-578-14318-7, is a 188-page paperback book consisting of nine chapters. Topics cover Marie’s early life in Monroeville, AL, her days in the Big Apple, her careers as a caterer and antique collector, and her experience working with Mr. Leno and his staff. It lists for $14.95. An ebook is also available.

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Susan Marg is the author of other award-winning books, including Las Vegas Weddings: A Brief History, Celebrity Gossip, Everything Elvis, and the Complete Chapel Guide, published by HarperCollins, and Hollywood or Bust: Movie Stars Dish on Following Their Dreams, Making It Big, and Surviving in Tinseltown. She is now working as a personal historian.

For more information, please visit YourBiography2.com or contact Susan per above.

Have You Read a Good Memoir Lately?

November 14, 2014

Susan Marg

UnknownMary Karr’s The Liars’ Club was first published in 1995, and it is often mentioned as kicking off the memoir craze. In her book the author reflects on her turbulent childhood in a small, smelly industrial Texas town in the early sixties. Alcohol-fueled fights and emotional disturbances were everyday occurrences.

In the introduction to an edition published ten years later, Carr commented on the response she received to her book. Liar’s Club was “odd,” she wrote, “not so much in the boatload of mail it generated, but in the length and intensity of letters. At the peak of its selling cycle, when it hovered at number two on The New York Times bestseller list for months, I got four hundred to five hundred letters a week…”

“How many of those letters began. ‘I’ve never told anybody this, but…?’ I didn’t count. A bunch.”

Memoirs resonate with our lives, whether the author addresses growing up, raising a family, dealing with old age, or all of the above in sadness or with humor. If done well they inspire and encourage. They might even motivate us to commit our own memories to paper.

One is never too old or too young to take on a life or family history project. Maya Angelou wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings when she was 41 years old. She was 85 years old when she wrote Mom and Me and Mom, the last of her seven autobiographies.

If you do put pen to paper, remember that you’re not competing with anyone else or comparing your life – or your writing — with those of others. You’re doing it for yourself, possibly to see how far you’ve come in life or to leave a legacy for your children and their children.

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

A Family Tree

November 8, 2014

Susan Marg

Sometimes advertisers get it right.

A current Subaru commercial, which I think is charming, taps into the feeling that comes when generations relate to each other.

A grandmother, son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter are on a family drive in the country.   The grandmother, who has that aging hippie look about her, is intent on connecting with her granddaughter. She shows her her crystal collection. At a flower stand, where they are petting a cat, the granddaughter asks her, “Can you really talk to cats?” The grandmother nods and smiles.

When they reach their destination, a tree in the middle of a field, the grandmother says, “This is where I met your grandpa, Right under this tree.”

The little girl runs over and hugs the tree.

Tree Hugger

In the next frame, they’re all hugging the tree, then the grandmother has second thoughts: “Or was it that tree?” she wonders out loud.

The commercial closes with the tagline: Love. It’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru.

Love also makes a family, and knowing your family history gives you roots. You better understand who you are in the world. You know you belong to something bigger.

Quoting Tommy Lee Jones, he’s an actor, but he also went to Harvard: “There are things, points of view, uses of the language, habits of dress, ways of thought and believing that came to me from my grandparents and came to them from theirs. Things that are of good use in any situation, no matter what the future may hold.”

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

Illustration by: Malchev

Ask Me Anything Wins Award

November 4, 2014

Susan Marg

Cowgirl Jane Press

Contact: Susan Marg

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Phone #: 858 792-6860

DATE: November 4, 2014

Email: SusanMargBlog@gmail.com

 

ASK ME ANYTHING WINS AWARD.

Southern California Book Festival Recognizes Excellence.

 

Marie Cover 5 EThe 2014 Southern California Book Festival, organized by JM Northern Media LLC, announced the winners of its annual contest celebrating the best books of the fall on November 3.

A panel of experts judged the books in several categories, including fiction, non-fiction, history and business, for general excellence and the potential to reach a wider audience. Ask Me Anything: A Memoir received Honorable Mention in the Biography/Autobiography category.

Susan Marg co-wrote Ask Me Anything with Marie Rudisill, also known as the Fruitcake Lady from her appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.   Well into her nineties, she became a television celebrity, going mouth-to-mouth with anyone who asked her a question or sought help with a problem. Susan says, “It was great working with Marie, a lot of fun. She always had an answer on the tip of her tongue.”

Ask Me Anything, ISBN 978-0-578-14318-7, is a 188-page paperback book consisting of nine chapters. Topics cover Marie’s early life in Monroeville, AL, her days in the Big Apple, her careers as a caterer and antique collector, and her experience working with Mr. Leno and his staff. It lists for $14.95. An ebook is also available.

###

Susan Marg is the author of other award-winning books, including Las Vegas Weddings: A Brief History, Celebrity Gossip, Everything Elvis, and the Complete Chapel Guide, published by HarperCollins, and Hollywood or Bust: Movie Stars Dish on Following Their Dreams, Making It Big, and Surviving in Tinseltown. She is now working as a personal historian.

For more information, please visit YourBiography2.com or contact Susan per above.

Who Doesn’t Love to Eat?

October 21, 2014

Susan Marg

Certainly, no one more than comedian Jim Gaffigan.

"I'll have fries with my burger," says Bob's Big Boy. Photo by: Jennifer Cachola

“I’ll have fries with my burger,” says Bob’s Big Boy. Photo by: Jennifer Cachola

The cover story of the October 19 issue of Parade magazine explores Gaffigan’s relationship with food. Quotes from his new book, Food: A Love to Story, fill the article. As a personal historian, I particularly like his family stories past and present.

“For my fifth birthday, my sister got me a package of Oscar Mayer Wieners and a six-pack of Dr. Pepper,” Gaffigan recalls. “She knew how much I loved my hot dogs.”

The youngest of six children, he tells of having supper when he was growing up: “You had to eat it before someone else ate it.”

Now with five children of his own, he makes a point of sitting down to a meal with his family. It can be an ordeal with unruly offspring. “Eating with your kids is nurturing, but it’s not relaxing.” He further explains, “There’s a lot of negotiating, the anxiety of things being spilled, kids missing their mouths. If you can get them to sit in a chair successfully, you feel you’ve achieved something.”

So, dinnertime might not be the best time to trace the family tree, relate the day’s activities, or plan a vacation. But it’s still the best time of day to come together.

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

Who Ya Gonna Call?

October 10, 2014

Susan Marg

Have you lost control of your schedule? Engage a personal assistant to get you to the church – or the meeting or the hairdresser – on time.

Photo by: Fingle

Photo by: Fingle

Do you want to get rid of clutter? Employ a personal organizer to create space in your closet, if not your mind.

Are you lacking motivation to get in shape? Sign up with a personal trainer, and go for the burn.

Were you hurt in an accident?   Hire a personal injury lawyer.

Are you baffled by the stock market? Ask a personal financial advisor.

Are you undecided on how best to start your memoir, life history, or family story? Call me: I’m a personal historian. I can help.

© 2014 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved