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I wish I had had time to post about the KERA public television documentary tonight on Bonnie and Clyde. I knew some of it. Working at the Fort Worth Star Telegram, I saw the old pictures, read some of the stories. This was really well done. Descendants were part of it, so it was sentimental with the realism. If you get a chance to see it, do watch. A fascinating window on the 1930s, and a couple who loved each other killed the good guys, and knew they would die for it.
Their devotion was romanticized, but not their killings or robberies.
As I watched this, I thought of how much of the past, including this, I saw in the old newspaper "morgue," the open files of photos and old stories from years past. Sometimes someone who had been with the paper for decades before you would wander in with you and direct you to some of "the good stuff." And as you read and viewed, they talked about what they knew from decades before you came along.
The past should not be dry and factual, a perusing of dry materials, but should include the side stories, the anecdotes, the reality of what is now the past. The people are still around, even when the pictures and info is on the computer.
I liked the bias in the documentary of the family emotions and thoughts. The descendants had a lot to overcome with the names they bore, and also, the family dynamics they came from.
It was real.
Okay, I'll go back to my blog now.
AND, after a great discussion with my computer, which keeps wanting me to sign in on GMail, which I have never used, I'm in. I think. Sort of.
I started writing as a journalist when I was 16 years old, at the end of my junior year in high school. I had started submitting high school news to the town newspaper, and I was offered a summer job. I was offered $1 an hour when the legal pay was $1.10. My dad and I fought about it all day. He was furious I wanted to work all summer, and he was furious the pay offered was below the legal minimum pay. He knew my wings were growing. He wanted me around for summer vacation, and whatever he and Mom wanted me for.
My mother would never have let us fight like that. She was at a teaching seminar for the day. Which was why I picked that day to tell (ask for permission)him my plans.
It is a funny story, when you consider how many parents complain about their layabout kids.
Because I will always remember his capitulation: "Okay! BE selfish! Work all summer and your mother and I will see you when you have the time!"
He left, and I danced a little.
And it was quite an education.
Some of the stories I heard about that summer beat anything I did as a career journalist. Some I wrote about. And some were history.
At 16, maybe I wasn't old enough to know about the alcoholic judge who had to come in, hungover, on a Saturday to adjudicate for extradition the Texas car thief who was recovering from DTs (which I had never heard of) when he and the judge shared a bottle of aspirin as they completed the paperwork.
All I ever knew was that I was seeing real history right before my eyes, and when I heard the history, the old stories, it came alive for me. Real people were involved, warts, good, evil, smart, dumb, caring.
Both my parents loved history so much, but I had a fifth grade teacher who assigned history lessons as a punishment for any infraction. I was slow to come into the fandom.
It happened one day my junior year in high school, with a teacher named Charles Spicer, who taught me history was not about wars, battles, and dates, but people, relationships, and adventures.
AndI expanded it to NOW. I wanted to know how the people around me, with ordinary lives, were making our history today. And I learned. I witnessed.
Today, I am a living archive to the past of many of you. I saw, lived through, felt, managed, voted, made do, reached up, tried new things that all of us did to lead to now.
The Bonnie and Clyde documentary I saw tonight reminded me of second, sometimes third-hand stories of their past.
What we remember, what we pass on to our children and grandchildren, that is the history, the reality we know. We must remember others have different histories and realities.
It will help us learn to agree.