Breland: Journals can truly help us keep history of our lifetimes

Published 11:34 am Friday, June 10, 2022

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During the many years I have been a writer, I have sometimes bored readers with many adventures of my life — from childhood, marriage, kids of my own, their adventures, those of my grandchildren and now even my great-grandchildren!

As a result, there are reams of material about my life and my feelings as I have kept a lot of those writings. I also write in a journal. Not every day, but frequently. My daughter Kaye recently gave me a new journal, ready for writing.

All I have written, and some of it is very likely repeated, because writing a weekly column for 50-plus years covers a lot of territory

I once persuaded Rob to write a few lines about his growing up years. The children need to read it, I told him as I handed him a legal pad. I suggested that he keep the pad and a pencil near his chair and as he remembers things about his life, jot them down.

My parents told us many things of the past, but nowhere was it written down, although Mom was an excellent writer. Only once did I get her to write about her childhood. It was short, but interesting. She didn’t think she had anything to write about. Her dad died when she was a year old, making for an interesting life.

I’ve scolded myself for not writing about their adventures. In later years when I tried to remember, it was hard. You don’t have to be a professional writer to jot down things, putting in as much detail as possible. We may not think about how interesting our lives are, because we think everybody is living the same way.

I remember one tale Daddy used to tell us about Frank Douglas, the man who long ago used to hang out at the store at Sheridan. “As slow as Frank Douglas” was the way people referred to him. He was a bachelor and lived by himself in a little house near the store. He had no reason to be in a hurry.

Daddy told us that not only was Frank slow, but his mother, whom Daddy referred to as “Aunt Mag” was also slow. The “aunt” part was just out of respect, they were not related, just lived in the same community. Daddy regaled us with a tale about the time when he was a child and he went home with Frank and his mother to spend the night. Although she started cooking early, it was almost midnight before they ate.

“I was about to starve to death before we got to eat!” he would tell us and laugh. This was just a simple boyhood memory of spending the night with someone. What seems usual and mundane now will be very entertaining in the future! Dad had lots of tales I never heard. He shared them with other people, but not me, even in my writing years. He did tell me a lot about his ancestry, which was important.

I have an old journal from a great uncle, which was passed on to my dad. In it are all sorts of daily and weekly events, including times when his cows and hogs were bred and had their young! Also included are the birth dates of all the family members and incidents about illnesses and deaths in the family. This is a boon to genealogists. The pencil writing is fading, but enough there to tell me about the lives of those who came before me.

I kept a long journal while Rob suffered with dementia. Maybe it will be read. Perhaps it will help some so suffering or for others to understand.

I am told I have led an interesting life. My life actually was not that much different from the ordinary. I was just lucky enough to be in a profession where I had to polish my writing skills and make it sound interesting.

“My life is an open newspaper,” I often say. By some good fortune, it is still being read.

 Retired as Associate News Editor, Bob Ann Breland writes a weekly column for The Daily News. You can email her at