There is no doubt that history opens old wounds–but unfortunately history can no longer be buried. The Internet has become a vast and primarily free library with old newspaper archives documenting every little thing that has happened. Once upon a time history was clinical and you had to open a history book or go to a museum to get your facts. With the right web site addresses or search strategies, I am prepared to argue that most people that lived and died, and any great tragedy that ever hit a community is publicly documented forever on ancestry.com or in a newspaper archive.
So what do I go through personally when I write every day? What feelings do I fight with on a daily basis? What makes me throw my hands up in the air and just want to walk away from my laptop some days?
Here are some examples:
Some people do not take what I write seriously as they feel I am not qualified because I have no formal degrees. There are also folks who also don’t like the way I write but —people no longer want to read clinical– they want a story, they want to be entertained, even in history. It’s a new world that some historians really don’t want to embrace, but are going to have too sooner than later.
Some say my blogs are popular only because local living ancestors want to see their names in print like the old newspaper social columns. While there is probably some hint of truth to that there is also an important factor. Without these names coming forward and offering their own personal stories community history would be impossible to document.
Some say I post tragedies for ‘cheap thrills’ or to quench people’s voyeurism which is also not true. While history is composed of good and bad I personally try very hard to keep a 50 year rule and not post anything negative from current frames of time. An example would be those that were concerned about my story of the Klu Klux Klan coming to Smiths Falls in 1926 and wanted it buried– but it happened. I am not posting about something that has not been documented in some shape or form in books and is also available online. I spend time researching to make sure notable stories are documented for today’s generations that really do not care about history–but they will some day. The bottom line is: accidents happened, loss of life happened, fires happened, and they are all part of our history whether we like it or not.
One of my good friends from the Bay area John Manchester summed it up for me a long time ago when I was having issues with negative comments on my political writings. John’s father was William Manchester who had written “The Death of a President” and he told me what his father had to go through to write his books. Everyone says they want to become a writer, but to be a real writer you have to dig in and write every single day and put up with lots of criticism and rejection. I am not writing about the Kennedys like he was, but I understand history generally teaches us how hard it is for anyone to control it, including the people who think they’re making it. I don’t like everything I read, but understanding our past is important in helping us grapple meaningfully with our present.
You can’t change history, nor can you bury it, and ignoring the storms of the past will never let you see the rainbow at the end of the tunnel. History matters because of what people went through and it makes them nothing but heroes in my book. Today, once again for the umpteenth time I finally understand why I am spending the rest of my life documenting local history. As Confucius once said: ”Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”.
and yes, I will see you tomorrow
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)