“My father used to say that stories are part of the most precious heritage of mankind.”
Tahir Shah, In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams
The first thing you need to know about giving an oral history is that you DO NOT have to know or talk about the larger story that surrounds the time period. Oral histories are about personal memories.
Milton & Cora West were the first Mill Family I wrote about on this blog, as told through the eyes of Jackie Howell Wall, oldest of their 18 grandchildren. Click here to read about Milton & Cora. The second Mill Family was Annie & Jim Casey, remembered by their daughter ‘Maggie,”Mary Casey Langrehr. Click here to read about Annie & Jim Casey. Both stories were greeted with great interest and appreciation, because in some sense, they were everyone’s story that grew up in the Mill Village, or worked at the Mill. It triggered many precious stories.
Here is all you need to do. Gather several friends, or relatives, and sit together REMEMBERING. It’s easier to tell family stories among your peers with everyone jumping in to add their version of the memory. Of course, you are welcome to give an oral history by yourself if you prefer. Set aside about 45 minutes. E-mail Elijah Gaddis and arrange a time for your gathering or individual spot. The Community History Program from UNC will come to you. That’s it! Please share this post with your Mill network. Help get the word out about this opportunity.
In Part One of this series, I introduced you to Elijah Gaddis, Project Manager with Communityhistories.org, He and his associates have started a series of conversations with former RMM workers, their families, and other community members. Once they have recorded these stories and memories, they will use them to make digital exhibits where you can hear, read, see, and learn more about the history of Rocky Mount Mills. This will insure that those connected with the Mill will live on. I am convinced all of us wonder what will be remembered of us when we are gone. Help with this noble undertaking of archiving memories of RMM so that its history will not be lost. Your family stories will be shared widely with school children, college students, libraries, and future exhibits. These stories of all these good folks can serve as a moral compass for those who are building a future for the RMM, and who live in the Village. Don’t miss this opportunity to insure that something of you and yours are remembered and treasured into the future.