Thursday, August 9, 2012
WRITING FOR YOURSELF
After our 50th high school reunion - that is, the Long Beach Poly High School Class of 1953 - I decided my growing up years in Long Beach were just too good to keep to myself. From years of doing genealogy and knowing how excited I felt when I discovered something written by an ancestor about his or her life, I decided I'd set aside the next few months and produce a short-ish overview of my life between the time I was born there - 1935 - to the date of my leaving - 1959, which was when my husband Joe and I bought a house and moved to Westminster in neighboring Orange County.
I have always found that staying on track is easiest when the parameters of my efforts are clearly set. And in the same vein, I tend to focus more clearly when I set a flexible time schedule in which to produce the work. The third thing I need to decide who my audience will be. In this case, I didn't want it to be a genealogically oriented paper, even though I knew I would be giving copies of it to my children, also native Long Beachers. However, I wanted copies to go to the local historical society, the local library and Cal State Long Beach, and how I was related to people in the stories was not at all important. With all this in mind, I set out to write my story of growing up in Long Beach, and all I needed to do was please myself.
My story encompassed the schools I attended - Willard and Whittier Elementaries, Hamilton and Washington Junior Highs, and Long Beach Polytechnic. I told about life on Henderson Avenue where I lived until I was 7, on Stanley Avenue until I was 10 and Gardenia Avenue until I moved to Westminster. I wrote about how our family experienced WWII. I included our family's utilization of things uniquely Long Beach - Rainbow Lagoon, the Pike, the Plunge, the roller coaster, Shady Acres Miniature Golf course - and the hangouts of teenagers when I got to that age - Grisingers for Strawberry Pie, Ken's 15 Cent hamburger stand, the Hot Dog Show, the beaches and barbecue pits, Marine Stadium, canoeing around the Naples canals off the Colorado Lagoon and of course learning to shop in downtown Long Beach before there were such things as Malls.
I've shared the paper with lots of my old friends from those Long Beach years, and we've gotten many a laugh over remembering this and remembering that. I am convinced that getting one's growing up down on paper is a very special thing to leave as your legacy. If you haven't already done so, I'd suggest that you see what you can come up with that is pleasing to you. "Writing for Yourself" is the best way to get the stories inside of you to where they belong -- in the hands of family and friends and other old Long Beachers who also have a store of memories. Why don't you give it a try?