Where I’ve Been…

by Memoir Mentor on November 3, 2009

I’ve been presenting seminars recently for a variety of groups ,so I haven’t had time for blogging. I spoke to an enthusiastic group of genealogists in the Southern California Genealogy Society in October about writing family histories.

Blog 1At the end of the month my husband and I flew to Pennsylvania and attended the annual conference of the Association of Personal Historians, a fine organization of about 600 talented and generous folks who are in the business of creating written, audio, and video personal histories for their clients.

This year’s conference was held in Valley Forge, and it was the perfect time of year to be in that part of the country. We met at the Radisson Hotel, which is right across the street from the Valley Forge historic site, and a couple of miles down the road from the King of Prussia Mall, purportedly the largest mall on the East Coast. Talk about a great location!

My husband and I presented a five-hour seminar at the conference on the subject of truth in memoir writing. We discussed how to use fiction techniques to make memoirs interesting…and still tell the truth. My husband drew from his career as a lawyer when he discussed legal issues—copyright, libel, trademark, etc.—that relate to the work of personal historians. Later in the conference I taught another class and presented ways personal historians can make the people in their stories seem more alive and real.

I learned a great deal from the other classes I attended and particularly enjoyed the “show and tell” evening where Blog 4APH members shared the books and videos they created for their clients. As always, I was impressed with the professional caliber of their work. I have recommended the services of some of these individuals to people who want to turn their personal history project over to someone else, someone they can trust will get the job done to their satisfaction. If you’d like to learn more about this fine organization, visit the APH website at www.personalhistorians.org.

After the conference we spent a few days in the area discovering what fall looks like in all its glory. Being from Southern California, I find it hard at home to tell the difference between seasons. We visited Valley Forge, which was inspiring and beautiful, important to me because several of my ancestors spent that long terrible winter with Blog 2Washington’s troops in 1781, when the war appeared to be tilting toward a British victory.

We also spent a few days in Philadelphia, visiting historic sites like Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, which we had seen on a prior vacation. We then drove to New York’s Hudson River Valley for the last two days of our trip. It’s an area we’ve always wanted to visit, and the fall foliage provided a spectacular drive.

Blog 3The highlight of our time along the Hudson was our visit to Franklin Roosevelt’s home and presidential library and a tour of the campus of the Culinary Institute of America.  If I could go back in time and have a “do-over,” I’d enroll in that cooking school. What a beautiful campus it was, perched on a knoll with a view of the Hudson River. Our tour took is by kitchens where students—dressed in chef’s hats and coats—were learning how to make bread and pastries.  There was a lecture about French wine going on in another room. We were there in time for a late breakfast and we had a hard time choosing from the delectable array of pastries displayed in glass cases in the Apple Pie Bakery Café. We decided, when you can’t decide, buy several.  A good idea, as it turned out.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jim McKown November 7, 2009 at 11:30 am

A visit to the CIA is a great experience. We have been there for dinner, twice. Always a good meal, followed by unbelieveable deserts. But, there is a story…

In the mid-1980s, ten of us (the Red, White, But Never Blue Wine Club) visited a restuarant in San Luis Obispo, CA. At a nearby table there was seated my friend, who was hosting a group of seven Japaese engineers, all graduates of the University. The two tables became friendly, sharing some good wines. Toward the end of the meal, things became slighly silly and gigly. Most of the eighteen vied for the honor of sticking a teaspoon on his/her nose and being able to retain that spoon for the longest period. Well, the waiters got to laughing and a few joined in. The Kitchen was well aware of these antics, with Chefs popping out ocassionally to check on our progress. “Twas a fun evening.

Fast forward about two years to our second dinner at the CIA… We were chatting with our waitstaff, learning more about them. The personable young lady, our lead waitress, was from San Luis Obispo! We talked further and learned that she had been a waitress at that same restuarant where we had been a part of the “spoon scene.” A spark of recognition, a great laugh, and she told us of the fun that we had created in the whole restuarant that evening! Our reputation preceded us…

2 Jim McKown November 7, 2009 at 11:38 am

So, I mispelled “restaurant” three times in my earlier comment, but cannot find the way to correct the spelling. To those who would sanction my spelling ability, I can only say, “I know, I know!”

3 Memoir Mentor November 7, 2009 at 12:08 pm

I love this story. I wish I’d been at that San Luis Obispo restaurant with you. It sounds like you had a great time. Sometime I’m heading back to the CIA and having dinner there. We wished we could have stayed longer there this time.

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