I'm Sara Tucker, a writing coach who loves to work with the over-80 crowd—one of my students is Margaret Egerton, pictured above at age 99. For the past two years, I've been volunteering at the senior center in Randolph, Vermont. The stories I hear are my reward: stories about growing up on a farm when every cow was milked by hand, driving over snowy roads to bring music to rural schools, race relations in the South before Martin Luther King was born. Margaret's memoir begins in England before World War I.
Now, the seniors and I are raising the funds to mount a multimedia exhibit of their work at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury. Our show will open in September, just as the leaves turn color. It will use photographs, video, written text, and recorded voices to share these stories with the thousands of visitors who pass through the Green Mountains during foliage season.
Randolph photographer Jack Rowell has donated hundreds of hours to this project. The Folklife Center has recorded the audio and made its excellent space available to us. The funds we are seeking will enable us to print, mat, and frame Jack's big, beautiful black-and-white portraits of the writers. Whatever extra money we raise will go toward the publication of a book in 2011.
You can help us! A donation will earn you an invitation to the opening party in September, a handwritten thank-you, and other cool stuff, as well as a chance to be part of an ongoing legacy project that celebrates small towns and long lives.
Writing is never an easy task, and old age doesn’t make it easier. Some of the Hale Street writers don’t drive anymore. Some don’t see or hear like they used to. They struggle to make their pens do what they want, to understand what their computer means when it says, “Overwrite?” Why do they do it? More than the writing, it’s the sharing, the sense that their lives have meaning and will continue to do so after they’re gone.
Our group has been featured on VPR’s “Vermont Edition”; we've published our memoirs in paperback and on our blog The Hale Street Gang and Me. We've turned them into videos and put them on our YouTube channel. With this touring exhibit, we hope to inspire other seniors to do the same. You can help make it happen!
- (89 days)