|Our house in Duluth, back yard in winter.|
I am writing these from memory, doing virtually no research. (I did a lot of research for my book, and it still had a handful of mistakes; I'm sure that with no research there would have been hundreds more.)
Here are a few corrections family members have alerted me to since I started writing these stories of my Duluth childhood:
* The tureen that I said was Aunt Barbara's was not Aunt Barbara's; Aunt Barbara bought it for my parents as a present.
* I did not go down the basement steps in my Taylor Tot in St. Joe; that happened in Louisville.
* Ditto the incident with my ragdoll, JoJo: Louisville, not St. Joe. (I was born in Louisville and we lived there until I was about two and a half, when we moved to St. Joe for the summer.)
* The restriction on Christmas music did not get lifted on the day after Thanksgiving; we could only listen to Christmas music after Dec. 10.
As a journalist, these little errors make me deeply uncomfortable. We are taught to get the facts right, and here I am, playing fast and loose with them. Or am I? With these little stories, I am trying hard to remember what it was like to be five, six, seven years old. I am working on the feel of the time, or my memories of the feel of the time, or what I think to be and believe to be my memories of the feel of the time.
Of course I want the other stuff to be right, too: I would never deliberately set a story in St. Joe when it actually took place in Louisville. I would not misrepresent the provenance of a tureen on purpose. But when I do it by accident, when I confuse things inadvertently, then what?
At some point, if I were ever to do anything more with these stories, I'll go back and fix the errors. Maybe I'll do it anyway. But there are sure to be more mistakes; I'm aiming my mind back 40, 45, 50 years in the past, and it's not possible to remember everything exactly. I do not want to complicate my impressions with other people's memories, and so I am just writing things as I recall them.
But rest assured that I am not making anything up; I am not exaggerating or embellishing; I am trying my hardest to get the to the truth of the feeling. The facts can always be tidied up later.
That's what the memoirist in me says, anyway. The journalist in me is gnashing her teeth at every correction.