Web diary: 'One Author's Life'
February 27, 2013
You have boxes and boxes of family documents, photographs, and other memorabilia. You'd like to do a family history but you don't know where to start. The first step, as I wrote in my previous post, is to properly store the material in archival-quality boxes. At least, you'll be keeping it safe for another (more…)
February 25, 2013
The good news is that your great-aunt Martha saved boxes of diaries, documents, photos and other family memorabilia. The bad news is that you don't know what to do with it all. This seems to be a common problem. Readers often ask me how to go about organizing family memorabilia into book form. Most (more…)
February 21, 2013
Everyone knows what it's like to return to their hometown and find that things have changed, but consider my husband's experience. He grew up in Naples, Florida. In 1962, there were 800 year-round residents. Many of the roads were not even paved. Today there are 325,000 people living in Collier County. My husband can't even find his (more…)
February 11, 2013
In my novel, "Miss Dreamsville," the main characters belong to a book club in a small town in Florida circa 1962. Among their book selections are "Silent Spring," "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "Their Eyes Were Watching God," and "The Feminine Mystique." Of course, in truth, I'm the one who got to pick the books they read, (more…)
February 5, 2013
One hundred and fifty-five years ago today, Henry B. Delany, who would become the first Black elected Bishop of the Episcopal Church U.S.A., was born into slavery on a plantation in St. Marys, Georgia. At the age of 7, he recalled the excitement and shock of learning the Civil War had ended. With his parents and ten older brothers and sisters, little Henry crossed the St. Marys River and settled in Fernandina Beach, Florida. All they had were the clothes they were wearing. They gathered wild plants for food and caught fish in the river. Eventually, they built a lean-to. They were able to get on their feet much more quickly than other freed slaves for one reason: The white family that had "owned" them had broken Georgia law by teaching the Delany children to read and write. In one generation, the Delanys vaulted from poverty. It was Henry, however, who would reach heights no one could imagine. Recruited by a white Episcopal priest to attend Saint Augustine's School (now College) in Raleigh, N.C., Henry impressed everyone he met. He married a fellow student, Nanny Logan Delany, and the couple raised 10 children. Among those children were a pair of sisters, absolutely inseparable, named Sarah ("Sadie") and Elizabeth ("Bessie"). After moving to Harlem, the sisters earned graduate degress from Columbia University and were ground-breaking career women in their own right. I met them in 1991 when they were 100 and 102 years old. Our book, an oral history called HAVING OUR SAY, tells their stories - as well as Henry Delany's, their beloved Papa, whose birthday they continued to celebrate each Feb. 5 until they passed away themselves.