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Corridor leading to Rochester Public Library.

Corridor leading to Rochester Public Library.

Part of the mural in the corridor.

Part of the mural in the corridor.

I had to take a picture of the German part of the mural!

I had to take a picture of the German part of the mural!

I always like the discussions that occur during my book talks. In Rochester, we talked about the elegiac aspect of my book. I wanted to honor the time and place from which I came of age. I’m not that old, but the way of life in communities has changed so much since then.

We talked about the Zimmerman chapter. A couple of audience members were living in the southern Minnesota area at the time, and they said how everyone in the region knew what had happened to the Zimmermans. Not only that, but the event stayed with them and they continued to keep track of Jim Zimmerman. Years later, the Zimmermans were still  a family that people cared about.

With our lightning-fast media today, it’s easy to hear about tragedies almost the moment they occur. But what’s different is that people — unless they are very close to the tragedy — forget about it in a couple of days. They remember it only until the Next Big Thing rockets into the media stratosphere.

Case in point: I watched KARE-11 last night that featured a story about Boyd Huppert’s “Land of 10,000 Stories” piece that went viral. Huppert said the elderly man and the family of the young boy in the story were “overwhelmed” by the immense, worldwide attention they were getting. I said to myself, “Well, they only have to wait a couple of days and everyone will forget about them.”

What happens when we lose institutional memory? What happens when we are constantly distracted by every shiny new thing that comes along?

On another note, I’ve been able to meet extended members of my family at book events. I never know who will show up! In Rochester it was a Byron, a relative, and a college classmate.

Kathleen was the relative, my dad’s first cousin. I will include a picture of her mother here because Kathleen is probably reading this post!

Some of the Hollinger children at their First Communion. From left, Andrew, Catherine, Irene, and Anna. Irene is Kathleen's mother, and Anna is my grandmother.

Some of the Hollinger children at their First Communion, c. 1914. From left, Andrew, Catherine, Irene, and Anna. Irene is Kathleen’s mother, and Anna is my grandmother.

We shared good memories of my grandma! Grandma Hager always had a smile on her face and her door was open to visitors at any time–children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, friends. On Sundays, Kathleen said the Hager farmhouse was open to anyone who wanted to visit and eat. Grandma was not only willing to feed all of her 14 kids (even the older ones who were married came back on Sundays), but willing to feed an extended family, too! I guess if you’re already feeding that many people, what’s a few more?

 

 

 

 

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