Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Re-Do

The advantage of interviewing a key person first thing is direction, knowing where to go first. The disadvantage of interviewing a key person first thing is information, not knowing enough to ask the right questions.

Today I'm going back to the very beginning, fifty plus interviews later, to a man who helped build Pilot Mountain School. He knows the history like no one else in the community. When I interviewed him last October, I didn't know enough to ask the particulars. I'm glad I did it this way because he set me on the right path, but that path has now looped back to the beginning line. It's not the finish line, though. It's the grounding, grinding line that will fill in the gaps to the string of  stories I've heard these past few months.

I can't wait.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Microfiche fishing

I've been spending time in front of a microfiche machine and the fact that the airconditioning in the library was not working didn't deter me one bit.  A little heat and humidity was nothing compared to what I was learning about struggles and obstacles of the late 1930's. I could get through this minor inconvenience.
I read about  the mudslides and the all too frequent autocrashes, the Hindenburg and the society pages of who invited who to supper. I searched through red herrings like a detective only to be disappointed that the lead didn't pan out. Slowly, in each inch of the old newspapers, I'm putting it all together. The gap is narrowing on my story and I'm close to finding the "why." I could work faster except for one thing.
I'm having too much fun reading. There's one local community called Joy and right down the road is a another community called Worry. I've been keeping up with their news, well, not new news, 1936 news. 1937 news. They have babies. They visit each other. They have rattlesnake stories, gold nugget stories. There is no difference between the two places. Only the names. So did the people from Joy look at life differently than their neighbors from Worry? Did the outside world look at the people from Joy differently than those from Worry? I've been worrying about that.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Accidental findings

Researching for me this spring has meant searching, proving, more searching, disproving and then more searching. But the most exciting findings are the accidental tidbits I find as I'm looking up something else. For instance, in a phone conversation with a fellow collector of local stories, I gleaned information that will lead me in a completely different direction to find about the schools in North Carolina requiring eleven years for graduation at the time this schoolhouse first opened. The twelfth was added in 1944, near the end of World War II. He claimed it had nothing to do with the agrarian society that influenced the rest of the school rules and regulations. Instead it was in anticipation of the men returning from war and looking for jobs. Holding the teens back one more year would keep them out of the job market long enough to allow these soldiers time to find jobs. So much for expanding the quality of education! So I'm off to the library tomorrow to research this one interesting item. I'm anticipating hours of looking for one small detail. But then again, just think what accidental findings I might come across.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Books at a music festival

I've been away from the computer for a few days at a music festival. Take a look at some pictures and spot me in the 76,000 crowd, if you can:

At the traditional music tent Saturday afternoon, I was sitting next to a man reading a book. Excuse me, but I couldn't help but wonder about anyone who would choose to read during a music festival. My kind of person, you know. I peeked over his shoulder as politely as I could and I was intrigued right away by the book's format. Turns out to be this book, Still inside - The Tony Rice Story, and though I enjoy listening to this guitar genius and would love to read his life story, it was the format that struck me. I found the tent where the man had purchased his copy and bought one and was back at the traditional music tent reading my copy along with him before that set was even finished.

Yes, just as I thought. Eureka and a joy and all that, too! I found an example of what I had envisioned for the Pilot Mountain Schoolhouse project. I went back to the book stand later, met the author, the publisher, the co-author, and eventually Tony Rice himself. Caroline Wright, one of the authors, spent time with Mr. Rice on the road and wrote about that in first person/present in seven different segments throughout the book. The book is divided into time periods of his life where he tells his own story. The author gives an overview of that era and then...this is where I am most thrilled...then there is a section of comments gleaned from interviews with many different people.

Exactly what I was looking for. It validates me. But it also gives me an idea of how to insert my voice in someone else's story. I can't wait to get back to writing!