Every December I let the hustle and bustle of the season steal my joy. Not this year! I am celebrating Christmas every day with a new idea. This idea is to capture family stories.

Jackie Recording Stu Trottmann Jr.for GCMWe are in the process of losing an entire generation. There are so many rich stories that have been told but never documented. Once that person is gone, the stories will go with them never to be told again.

A huge bonus I received by marrying Robert was gaining my father-in-law, Stuart R. Trottmann, Jr.  Stu, as I affectionately call him, is now 92 years old. Six years ago when we met, Stu had told us lots of stories. Robert told me that none of his stories were written down so I decided to interview Stu and record the stories. Robert came with me.

As with everything Stu puts his mind to in his life, he was prepared to talk. Boy was he prepared!

Robert sat in the room as we recorded. I learned about his childhood, losing his two year old brother.  I learned how he earned every penny in his wildly successful career. There were no hand outs. He matter of factly talked about joining the military and being the only white officer sent to Mississippi to be in charge of an entirely Black troupe. How appalled he was by the mistreatment of these soldiers’ human dignity by some of the local law enforcement and how he tried to change it. After he mentioned this, he was onto the next subject. I said, “Wait a minute, hold on, will you talk about that experience a little more?” After digging deeper into that subject even Robert heard stories he had never heard before.

Stu worked as the Vice President of Public Relations for Southwestern Bell and was responsible for promoting one of the first woman executives. Others said, along the lines of, “But we don’t have a woman at that level!” and Stu said, “I know, I’m trying to make one!” He stood for doing the right thing.

All total there were about 80 pages that I transcribed and gave to him bound in a book. I would have never known the entertaining and inspiring stories that Stu carried around with him had I not taken the time to get them on paper.

I just finished a book by one of my favorite authors, Mitch Albom, called Have a Little Faith. It documents a story of a Rabbi and a Black Minister. I’m paraphrasing here, but the Rabbi answers the question of what is our greatest fear.  It’s the fear of not being remembered.

Everybody has a story. Write your own story down. If you have friends or loved ones, don’t let their stories die with them. Write down family stories before they are lost forever.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulder. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6