the frailty of human memory

I'm trying to figure out how to retell stories about a place that I only know a little about.  The particular spot is a one time grocery store, now a bicycle shop, that I am guessing was a center of a neighborhood in its time. If there ever was a lore around it, it circulates among a group of people who I don't know.  The owner of the store was notable in his day, but that day is about 60 years ago.

My usual routine is to find an interesting idea, do searches in unexpected locations that get uncommon results, and assemble a story from clippings of things already written.  This can be a fast way of going from scattered and fragmentary information about something to a composed account that makes sense. Clippings are easy to assemble, someone else has done the work, and you can sit down and be done when you're done.

What's harder for me is to write about something that no one else has written down, especially something which you in turn have only limited knowledge of.  The quotable information from print sources may be locked up in materials that are not scanned in, and perhaps never scanned in unless you scan them in yourself – that is, if you can find anything at all.  The real stories of how things were might only be tellable if you can locate someone to tell them to you and if you write the stories down carefully for them.

If you are interested in something and want to publish something about it to mark that interest, you might end up with only a fragment to start.  There are some media where it's acceptable to tell a piece of a story that's an incomplete image, but only a very few.  "That's not news" and "what's your point" are typical reactions when a newspaper behaves that way.  The encyclopedia's defense mechanism says "that's not notable". "Too long, didn't read" is the reaction in the blog world.  So you need some place to dump fragments that don't have to be complete that's safe so when it comes time to tell a story you can extend your memory.

Nothing gets around the problem that the real stories can only be told by people.  That's an opportunity and a challenge.


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