I never heard Grandma Small (above, right) utter the words “President Roosevelt.” If she wished to make it clear that she was talking about the president from 1933 to 1944 she would say “that man in the White House.” Grandma had two sisters who would come to visit her occasionally. One of them was as loyal to the Democrats’ philosophy as Grandma was to the Republicans’. The other sister might have been a Socialist for all I can remember but when the three of them got going about current events and politics the atmosphere of the neighborhood would be assaulted by sounds approaching warfare. I can’t recall anything Grandma ever said about President Hoover. However, during his administration, she would have become homeless when Grampa lost his job due to the Great Depression if my parents hadn't provided a place for them to live. My opinion of Herbert Hoover and his administration is that he was a good person who was president during an unfortunate time. When he was inaugurated in March of 1929 the economy was ready to go into a recession no matter who was president. He did, however, sign the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which made matters worse and tried to restrict government spending to add to the misery. I imagine FDR learned a lot by watching and waiting. He was certainly different. In 1935 the Federal Insurance Compensation Act was signed into law and the first checks for benefits went to people who had never “contributed” to the so-called “trust fund.” Since welfare as it existed in the first years of the Depression was powerless to make much impact to relieve suffering I see Social Security as a welfare measure at that time. I think calling it an “entitlement” encourages people to look upon it more as an insurance annuity where the more you pay the more you get. A few concessions to the needs of the beneficiary have been made but they are very few and show no sign of doing anything to shore up the viability of the program. Whatever Grandma may have thought about Social Security, I am sure the benefits her household received were a godsend at the time. I never heard her say anything about that, though.
I started my blog when I was the sole youngster in a group of 80- and 90-year-olds who were writing down their life stories. It happened like this: In the fall of 2007, I left New York, where I was working as an editor for Conde Nast Traveler, and returned to my home town of Randolph, Vermont, to be closer to my mother, who was then 87. A year later, she and I started a memoir-writing group at the Randolph Senior Center. The initiative took flight, and has so far resulted not only in the publication of my own book, a memoir set in Tanzania, but in a dozen other books as well. My mother, Idora Tucker, died on July 15, 2012, leaving behind five published volumes recording important chapters of her life, as well as a thick notebook of unpublished writing. She and her contemporaries at the Senior Center have inspired countless others, including many of my generation, to write down their life stories. I hope you will be inspired by our blog to do the same.
To Order Our Books
To order our books, click on a cover. The link will take you to our e-store, and you can follow the steps from there. All titles are $10.95–$11.95, plus shipping.
Our House in Arusha, by Sara Tucker (Kindle edition, $2.99)
When an American traveler on her way to Kansas ends up in the Serengeti, her life gets a complete makeover. Within months, she is the wife of a French safari guide and the stepmother of an eleven-year-old. The year that follows is a test of courage and resilience as each member of the family struggles to make a place for himself in a tantalizing and dangerous world. Part love story, part adventure saga, Our House in Arusha explores the meaning of second chances.
An Ordinary Woman
Mothers are the core of our writing group. We would be nothing without them! All of the titles shown here were written by moms with their children in mind. Who knows—perhaps one will inspire your own mother to write a few words. Above: Ruth Godfrey is the one who keeps us laughing in the Tuesday memoir-writing group. Her book is that rare thing among modern memoirs—the story of a happy life.
The Hale Street Gang
Meet the Hale Street Gang, twelve senior citizens who gather every week in the village of Randolph, Vermont, to share their life stories. Most are in their eighties; the eldest is ninety-nine. Their clubhouse is the senior center, an elderly mansion in a fringy neighborhood south of the railroad tracks. Together, they weave a rich, lively, and intensely personal tale of twentieth-century America, its nexus a small town nestled in the Green Mountains.
The Hale Street Gang
In volume 2, we pay tribute to the many places in our past. Here you will find Downtown Randolph as it used to be (remember Merusi's Store? The Spot?) and Brookfield back when Jessie Fiske owned Green Trails—as well as Shanghai in the thirties, San Francisco in the forties, and New York City at the turn of the century (this one). The authors have all crossed paths at the Greater Randolph Senior Center, where we gather once a week to salute the flag, partake of Rose's meatloaf, and share our life stories. In A Sense of Place, we travel back through time to tell you where we've been.
I began my publishing career in the dark ages, before Google was born. When I was the copy chief at Cosmo, they were still using Wite-Out. Today, I write and publish my own work, thanks to the miracle of digital technology. I do most of my writing in Fontainebleau, France. My current book, An Irruption of Owls, is set in my hometown of Randolph, Vermont.