Loose Ends: Past becomes present in “record of days” remembrances

MEEKER — A couple of years ago when I began again writing articles about this area, I was determined to share my interest and excitement about the area’s history in a short form, figuring that whoever got interested might go find further information. Many of the old-timers who had first gotten me interested were gone by the time I became familiar enough with an event or tradition. Instead of interviewing individuals throughout the area, I turned to the secondary sources.
My column, “Loose Ends,” continues to be opinion based, and centers on some of the events, traditions and western culture of the area, while my historical column, Looking Back (To Look Forward) is based on writings that reflect these traditions, whether they be quotations from pioneer family members in an oral history interview, newspaper article or regional history book.
Once in a while someone will ask me why I think the way I do and imply that my views simply aren’t reality. I am either too positive about the effect change will have on this valley or I am too negative for their tastes. When I asked what one reader meant, he said that what I wrote wasn’t reality, he felt I was just not in touch with human nature. I didn’t ask him specifically which columns he felt offered too much rosy glow for his taste, probably most of them. I assumed they were the ones where I tended to make light of the dark side of the “Meeker Way.”
Sometimes it seems that glossing over a subject doesn’t do it justice, that interviewing the people who were most affected by an event — the primary sources — is the best way to keep the past alive and relevant. A few people have asked me why the paper seems to hardly ever carry the historic Days Gone By column anymore, or if my rendering of the old time traditions are meant to take place of that type of column. I usually tell them to write a letter to the editor, or give the Herald Times a call. I have always enjoyed reading the seasonal accounting of local events.
The little snippets of personal history that are often revealed in the historical “record of days” columns remain important, as the who, what, when, where and how of the past help us make sense of our daily life in this valley.