Excerpt from Leora’s Dexter Stories: The Scarcity Years of the Great Depression:
Dale and Darlene turned twelve in May, which meant that Dale was old enough to carry a gun while hunting. And Darlene had started babysitting for Zedonna Neal, daughter-in-law of O.S. and Nellie and a home ec teacher, who lived in the neighborhood. Rawson was four years old and Jimmie wasn’t quite one.
Once in a while Leora was puzzled at how an everyday table knife got broken. “Junior keeps sticking them between the table leaves,” Darlene told, “and flips them back and forth. I told him to stop, but he doesn’t listen.”
“You’re not the boss of me!” Junior piped up.
Narrative or creative nonfiction uses fiction techniques, such as imagined dialogue, to convey history in a more lively way. Leora’s World War II story uses narrative nonfiction, and her Depression Era story will as well.
The above spat came about because of two stories I knew about the family–Darlene’s babysitting job and bossing her younger brothers, probably just like she bossed the Neal boys.
I ended up with an old set of silverplate that belonged to Grandma Leora Wilson. The only thing better than an heirloom is one with a story. I knew that Clabe had given Leora the tableware for their 1914 wedding, so was delighted to polish each piece and use it for a family gathering.
But we were short a knife or two. I remarked about it to Mom.
“Well, while waiting for supper to arrive at the table, one of my younger brothers would absently stick a knife between table leaves and bat it back and forth. I know that at least one was broken that way.”
Working through the stories of the manuscript, I’d learned the personalities of Dale, Danny, and Junior.
Sorry, Junior. This episode was easily pinned on you!
The only thing better than an heirloom is an heirloom with a story. – Joy Neal Kidney