Sometimes it amazes me to realize how quickly the years have passed. It also saddens me to think about all of the priceless stories and memories that have been lost as a result of individuals passing away without having their memories preserved.
I was recently speaking with a friend, Gene Throop, and he was telling me a story about a trip that he made some years ago. During his trip, he noticed an elderly gentleman sitting on a porch and stopped to make an inquiry relating to directions. Gene ended up spending many hours on that porch listening to true stories about things that took place in that town during the days when Wild Bill Hickok and others lived and died by the gun. Gene also told me of another town he knows of where Al Capone had a hideout that he used during the roaring 20s.
According to Gene, there is a building in that town that still has rotating walls. Apparently that building was once used for gambling and when the police would show up, the people running the establishment would turn the walls around to hide the gambling equipment.
While reviewing material for future issues of the magazine, I came across a story written in 1938, in which the author mentions Morgans Raiders showing up at her family’s farm during the Civil War. The story goes on to mention the type of food her mother served to the Rebels along with information relating to a horse that was taken.
When I look at stories, one of the things I pay attention to is the age of the person telling the story and the date when it was shared. Back in the 50s, 60s or 70s, it was easy to find people still living that grew up in the old west and might have seen gunfights or any number of interesting things.
When you find stories or letters written from 1900 to 1950, it is possible to find first hand accounts of things that took place during the Civil War. As recent as the mid-1990s, I was able to talk to people that traveled in covered wagons as children, but with each passing day there are many historical stories that become lost forever.
People are constantly telling me to talk to so-and-so in order to get their story and as much as I would love to, there just are not enough hours in the day, week or month for me to personally collect all these stories myself.
Therefore, I am making a request to every one of our volunteers, subscribers, readers, and even the visitors to our website. If you would take one or two hours out of your busy schedule and spend it listening to an elderly family member, friend, neighbor or even a stranger, you can help preserve a piece of history. You do not have to be a professional writer or even know how to type. All you need to do is take a tape recorder along with you as you listen to someone recall the old days.
The only special request that I have is to make sure you record the persons full name, and if they ever mention another person by relationship, such as their father, uncle, great-grandmother or whatever, please ask them to spell out that persons full name. Then take the tape recording, or a copy of it, and send it to us. We have typists that will take the contents of that recording and type it up so that we can publish it and preserve those details and memories for future generations.
Give someone a very special Christmas gift that will let them know how much they are needed and appreciated. Send us a copy of their historical stories and let them see a copy of their memories preserved in our magazine.
Franklin T. Wike, Jr.
U S Legacies Magazine October 2003