Preserving History

By Guy Chapman – Navarro County Gazette

Yes We Can

I finally finished writing the last few words of my book.

For anyone who has ever attempted to write a book, that’s a pretty bold statement, especially since it’s never exactly 100 percent true. You don’t ever truly finish. You finally decide that you’re finally going to cut the cord and stop picking at the writing.

Moving forward, it’s more laying the book out, and making all the matching photos correspond with the text. That in itself is daunting and something I admit I need help with, because making pictures properly fit with text and not break the format… that’s a new level of mental crazy I’d rather have a professional handle.

For those who haven’t kept up with me, I’m writing a book about Corsicana, a history book about life in town during the 1980s and 1990s. While early feedback has been welcoming, I’ve had a few people ask “Why so recent a time period” before I remind that the 1980s were 40 years ago, and the 1990s were 30. I don’t relish the dawning horror, but I do sympathize. It really doesn’t feel that long ago.

But that’s the point of my work. For those who lived it, it still feels “recent.” I remember a variety of details so vividly I lose that perspective of passed time. It’s also so important I document that now while memories seem fresh.

It’s funny to me how regional history celebrates time periods like the 1880s or 1920s, but who opened a store on Seventh Avenue when we were kids isn’t as well documented. There wasn’t any file I could just open to get a Wikipedia-esque entry on the background of some of these events and places. It all came down to two factors: Hard research and interviews.

I really do enjoy both. I never saw myself as someone trying to preserve history, just more trying to find my place in it. Perhaps with this book, I’ve found something in between. It’s not as common to read about the history that we’ve personally lived.

Part of this research has led me into some interesting side tangents and unexpected discoveries, some larger than the actual writing. I plan to share one of those discoveries in the near future, hopefully before the book comes out.

In the meantime, those payoffs are starting to get closer to reality.

Photo by Guy Chapman

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Categories: Opinion