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STATON: Something to do when the ideas run dry

I feel certain many homes have about run out of ideas for things for their kids to do during the coronavirus pandemic.

School has been out for a month now, and I would like to suggest something that could be beneficial for the young and the elderly.

Usually after someone has died, the survivors wish they had asked more questions about their lives. It does not even have to be a relative to make one wish they had asked more.

My daughter Shanda told me she wished she had talked to Irene Woosley more and asked what she might know about Kiddville and about her grandparents. Irene lived to be 101 years old and was the oldest living person who attended church at Kiddville.

Irene’s memory was amazing even up to her last days. Not only her memory was great, but her wit was also. She often joked that all her friends probably thought she had died and gone to hell since she had not made it to heaven yet. She loved talking about old times to others. She was a good storyteller. Unfortunately her wisdom is now gone.

Most older people love to bring back old memories and feel honored when asked. I want to suggest that a young person call the oldest person they know and talk to them. Make a list of 12 questions they would like to know.

Here are some examples of questions they may ask:

What is your earliest memory?

How many years did you go to school?

Did you graduate from high school?

How old were you when your parents died?

What was your best childhood memory?

Did you like going to school? If they say no, ask why?

Did you have to work much at home?

How many were in your family?

Did you always live in Clark County?

Will you tell me what a Saturday was like at your house.

Where did your family originate?

How old were you when you got married?

Do you go to church? Did you get lots of spankings?

What did you and your siblings do for fun?

Do you know how to swim?

Where did you go swimming as a child?

The questions are endless. That is just a few they could get started on. The young person may check to see when would be good time for the interview to take place by calling first and setting up an interview time.

Samuel Langley said, “Knowledge begins with wondering. Set a child to wondering and you have put him on a road to understanding.”

Some kids may think their grandparents are odd or very different, but interviewing them may help them understand them more.

Wilson Milner said, “A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after awhile he knows something.”

I learned so much as a child by listening to my mom tell about her childhood. I always thought she could make any story so exciting. She could have us laughing our heads off or be too scared to make a move on some stories she would tell us.

My husband Eric said he would sit by his great-grandpa’s side as he rocked in his rocking chair and spit tobacco in a spittoon. Eric said he would talk to him like he was an adult and Eric loved it. His great-grandpa always wore a starched white shirt with khaki pants with suspenders. He said he would tell him about his dad and mom.

I thought to myself what a priceless memory that is, because I never got to know my grandfathers. I can only rely on what my Mom would tell me. It is so important to spend time talking about old times.

Eric also remembered his great-grandpa would make the biggest sugar cookies. He said they would be the size of a small pancake, and said they were so good. He told me his great-grandpa had to do the cooking because his great grandmother had heart trouble and was in bed all the time. Then he told me he remembered her smoking a pipe while she lay in bed. He said they also had an old mean rooster that would run after him and scare him half to death.

Memories are so important. I remember Eric’s dad, Clinton “Dickie” Staton, telling about his workhorse named Ole Tony he used to have to plow the fields. When Dickie spoke of his old workhorse, his eyes would light up. You could tell he loved that old horse.

It was one of the reasons that Dickie had an unusual tic all his life. Where he had plowed for days on end when he was young, he rubbed sores on his shoulder. All the way up until his death, he would move his shoulder as if to adjust the straps of his suspenders. That story helped me as a newcomer in the family understand why he did that.

Later, I wrote a poem about Grandpa and Ole Tony for our grandson, Ryan. I did not want that memory to be lost.

Just recently my granddaughter Stephenie, who is about to finish up her master’s degree in education, called and said one of her requirements was to interview someone in her life, and she chose me. I felt so honored to be her recipient. She was to write a story about me.

They had certain questions to ask. The ones I listed above were just ones I thought would be easy for a child to get started on. You may ask your child what they would like to know about their grandparents. It may be a good suggestion to let them know some may find some questions too painful to speak about.

I think it will be a great experience for the interviewer and the subject. Some grandparents would love to have their grandchild take more interest in them. After all, when they are gone so are the answers.

Happy interviewing.

Sue Staton is a Clark County native who grew up in the Kiddville area. She is a wife, mother and grandmother who is active at First United Methodist Church, and Towne and Country Homemakers.