The Hardest Part

Jun 3, 2015 | 2 comments

Chinook School, circa 1900

Chinook School, circa 1900

Last night marked Week Five of my “Putting the Story Back in History” class. As usual, I went about ten minutes over my time allotment and, as usual, I was amazed that everyone stayed and that some folks even stuck around to talk afterwards.

I find that timing is the hardest part of my job. It’s not that I don’t do a practice run-through a day or so beforehand. I closet myself away from distractions and follow my “lesson plan” (read: list of power point slides and accompanying stories) reading each story aloud, timing myself all the while. I purposely leave about ten minutes ‘slush time’ for questions and comments, but it’s never enough.  The stories take longer and there is never enough discussion time.

Ilwaco Basketball Team, Winter 1905/1906

Ilwaco Basketball Team, Winter 1905/1906

Like many other things in life, it’s the ‘what to leave out’ that matters. The stories I don’t have time to tell make those I do share all the more important. I often wonder how painters and sculptors know exactly what to include and I think of the apocryphal comment attributed to Michelangelo: “You just chip away everything that doesn’t look like David.”  There’s no evidence that he ever said that, of course, but it’s a compelling statement, nevertheless.

The challenge I give myself for each week’s class is to tell the best stories illustrating the week’s topic. Next Tuesday we’ll take a look at “The Dear Old Golden Rule Days” which, in my mind covers childhood, in general – school, play, work, conditions of growing up in Pacific County in the years of our forebears.

Once again, I must pick and choose. So many stories! So little time!


  1. Ruth maloney

    Really there was a women,s basket ball team in 1905? I had prayed for one in the early 1960’s, no such luck. I would have been good.

    Just so you know you are inspiring me to get to my writing. So many things in my head – slowly escaping.

    By the way that rooster is beautiful!

    • sydney

      Great! Escape them on to paper! I’m cheering and clapping!


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