Do you know all about their childhood, a time they got in trouble, what they liked to do after school, their first job, what kind of music they listened to, what movie or book influenced them, where they went on their honeymoon and more? No?!! You're not alone. My husband and his grandfather created a do-it-yourself autobiography journal to make it easy for anyone to tell their life stories. Over 300,000 have sold, often as gifts for family members. They don't have to be grand writers; they just answer the question at the top of each page. Little by little their life stories are recorded for future generations. Pretty painless. Here's what my husband and his grandfather wrote about the process when the book first came out:
The Book of Myself: A Do-it-Yourself Autobiography in 201 Questions, Carl & David Marshall, Hyperion, 1997 & 2007
Grandpa’s Story: I was born in 1903 and have just celebrated my 91st birthday with Gladys, my wife of 68 years. We have a son and daughter, eight wonderful grandchildren and so many great-grandchildren I cannot keep track of them all. Two years ago my daughter Karldene helped me write my memoirs. It was an exhilarating experience to tell the stories of my childhood, young adulthood, and later years in a way that could be passed on to future generations. My family loved it. My friends were envious, but most of them felt it would be too difficult for them to do the same. After all, it took me over a year to write with my daughter doing all the typing and assembling.
So when my grandson David approached me with a plan for simple book that would help people begin telling their stories, I jumped at the chance to co-write it. What we have done here is give you the skeleton to your story. You provide the meat on the bones. After all, everyone has stories to tell about family, friends, education, work, and the world during the different phases of life. I am nearing the end of my journey now. But before I go I wanted my family and loved ones to know my stories, big or small, deep or shallow, known or unknown. I have learned a lot during these last nine decades and want to share this with the next three generations. I know you do too. Before you go, let them know. -- Carl E. Marshall
(Grandpa Carl passed away prior to the publication of this book.)
Grandson’s Story: I grew up in the 60s and 70s and will soon be celebrating my 39th birthday with Kate, my wife of ten years. We have two young children and look forward to many of our best years still ahead of us. We are watching our parents and grandparents grow older now with trepidation and awe. Trepidation in realizing that they will not be with us forever and awe in realizing the wisdom about life they carry with them. Grandpa Carl taught me to reach for the stars and to believe in myself even it others lose their faith. He also worked me hard but I have to admit, such tasks as bricklaying in the backyard helped strengthen my work ethic. And he showed me how to treat math as an adventure instead of a chore.
I have always loved hearing Grandpa spin yarns around the dinner table. They helped me to know him more intimately. I wanted to find a way to ask him about all the different areas of his life and to save what he told me. Even some of the little tidbits that he would never think to add himself. It now comforts me to know that long after Grandpa Carl is gone I will still have this little book of treasures to share with my children and grandchildren. I hope this collection of life stories will help you to also begin sharing your stories with those who will carry on in your path. -- David P. Marshall
Causes Kate Marshall Supports
Project Second Chance, an adult literacy program run by the Contra Costa County Library system in California.