Aug 22, 2013

What Real People Think About

by Kari Pike

The human brain fascinates me. Genetics intrigues me. The fact that life exists at all is miraculous. Sometimes I just have to sit back and say Wow. Just Wow.

As spiritual beings going through a mortal experience, we have the capacity to develop some pretty amazing coping skills. I teach all of my birth education clients how powerful their minds are in the birthing process. When the body is under extreme stress, the brain will do some interesting things to try to protect itself from that stress. Our brains work in similar ways when everyday stress gets to be overwhelming.

Take today for instance. My friend called late yesterday to tell me that her oncologist found some funny stuff going on and he moved her bone marrow biopsy up a week because he said, "We don't want to waste any time." A few hours later, our son offered to help us buy our own home and said that we needed to do it "yesterday" because interest rates are going to sky rocket in the next few months. My brain went into survival mode: focus on the most important things and throw everything overboard that is not essential to survival. In other words, I forgot I was supposed to blog today.

So -- here I am. As far as writing goes -- I have been pouring hours and hours into research for a narrative history of my step-father's family. We have a book about the Collamer ancestors who crossed into England from Normandy with William the Conqueror and then to North America from England in the early 1600s. The book ends in the mid to late 1800s. My project is to bring that narrative history up-to-date. I've learned how to do oral interviews, find and create maps, search through census records, city directories, and vital records. I've learned that nothing is free (particularly if you need it from a government agency), but the information is priceless and is always there if I dig hard and long enough.

It's been fun discovering historical facts about the time periods and the communities these people lived in. Did you know, for instance, that there was a flood in Boston, Massachusetts in the early 1900s? Over 2 million gallons of molasses spilled from collapsed tanks and 21 people drowned. (Gives a whole new meaning to being slower than molasses....groan.) Another interesting occurrence: On November 11, 1911, an F2 tornado ripped through Owosso, Michigan at 11:11 pm. Two people died and 9 others were injured (9+2=11). Incredible!

Of course I will include important events having to do with stuff like military service, what it was like to live during the depression(s) and the first radio broadcasts for baseball and prizefights -- because that's what real people thought about every day. Yes, their lives were affected and touched by world events, but I think it's important to learn about what they experienced first hand.

What do you like to read about when studying the lives of your ancestors?


  1. Interesting post Kari. Each of the items/subjects you wove in gave me pause to think. I have a WIP that uses the magic of numbers. I wanted to know more about the mind and how it copes with stress. Maybe a future post you could do?

  2. Cindy! i love numbers. I look forward to reading your book! As for the mind and stress...I'll chew on that one for awhile and see what I can come up with. thanks for you comments. It's getting lonely over here! hugs~

  3. Kari, how do you do it? Once again, a great post--in little time--and very profound wisdom. Are you sure there aren't two of you?
    I admire you so much.
    As for family history. . . I loved interviewing my grandmothers and my great aunt. My great aunt Kitty started off by saying, "Oh, I don't know anything. Ask your grandmother (her sister)."
    A ninety-minute cassette tape later (it was the 1980s) she was talking about her grandparents and abolition and crossing into the wildnerness (which was West Virginia in those days).
    As a reporter, I got to sit at the feet of some great people telling real life stories.
    I love history. Even yours :)


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