One very cold winter day, probably not unlike the many days some of us suffered through this winter, I brought my Barbie case to Show and Tell to share with my first grade class. It was such a cold day that when I left school, I considered leaving Barbie at school until Monday. Ultimately, though, I knew I couldn’t go a whole weekend without my favorite toy.
As I struggled against the wind, I tried to walk backwards to avoid the bitter cold in my face. About halfway home, my hands were so cold, even in my mittens, that I made the heart-wrenching decision to leave my precious Barbie case behind on the sidewalk. I trudged on, tears streaming down my face, when my mother’s car pulled up alongside me. Together, and much to my relief, we returned to retrieve Barbie before heading home.
Even as an adult, I remember how I treasured my Barbie doll, her special case, and her wardrobe. I can’t begin to imagine how desperately cold I must have been to leave it all behind so I could put my hands in my pockets. At six years old, I must have thought it was a matter of survival! Thank goodness, my mother arrived in time to rescue Barbie (and me!)
Eventually, I outgrew my Barbie and, reluctantly, parted with her as we packed to move to a new home.
Show and Tell, on the other hand, is alive and well!
Recently, I hosted a group of thirteen people at a local eatery. We gathered to show off our valuables and share the stories of what made them special to us. Some of the people who came were longtime friends, but even they heard stories they’d never heard before.
One woman told of her father who worked in the ship building industry during World War II, and she showed pictures from when her mother was honored to christen one of the ships. Another woman read excerpts from her childhood diary. One man shared a baseball he treasured, the one signed by the boys from the Little League team he had coached.
The first Show and Tell for Grownups was created in the spring of 2012 by Martie McNabb, a colleague in the Association of Personal Historians and owner of Memories Out of the Box in Brooklyn. The idea spread quickly among APH members, who began hosting similar events. And this year, during the month of May, members will launch this global phenomenon of Show and Tell events to celebrate Personal History Awareness Month and focus on the importance of preserving and sharing personal history. Participants are invited to bring an old photo, letter, family memento, or a treasured personal item or even a quirky travel souvenir to “show and tell” the stories behind the items.
Show and Tell events are open to anyone who wants to show and tell or just watch and listen. Check the Upcoming Events page on the Association of Personal Historians website to see if there is a Show and Tell event scheduled in your area.
Maybe a treasured item from a childhood Show and Tell deserves an encore performance? What favorite item from now—or from years ago—will you want to talk about?
~APH: We’re the Life Story People~
About today’s contributor: Rhonda Kalkwarf began her work as a personal historian as she was finishing her degree in adult development and interviewed her mother-in-law. When Rhonda discovered how much she enjoyed the process and what her work meant to her whole family, she knew she was on to something. Today Rhonda helps people create books of their personal stories as well as histories of businesses and organizations. Her business is My Story Saved.
Photos courtesy Rhonda Kalkwarf