During National Library Week, the public library in Dalton invited me and other Project Keepsake story contributors to attend a reception. I invited members of the community and encouraged them to bring one of their own keepsakes from home. I was thrilled when Tut McFarland walked through the door that evening.
In her nineties now, Gertrude "Tut" McFarland is a keepsake, in her own right. Decades ago, she graduated from LaGrange College where she majored in speech and theatre. She performed at the famed Barter Theatre in Virginia, taught private speech lessons, then joined then taught school for years and years at at Morris Street School in Dalton.
I met Ms. Tut two years ago when she attended one of my writing workshops in Northwest Georgia. During the course of the workshop, Tut shared many stories with me. She told me about a "keepsake room" in her house and described some of the historical objects in her possession—a key to an ancestral smokehouse dating back to Civil War days; a primitive tooth extraction tool (a torture devices) passed to her from her grandfather who was a dentist; a dollhouse her father built for her when she was a young girl (he even wired electric lights for it); and a small, dirty, stuffed bunny that reminds her of her teaching days.
So when Tut strolled into the library that night, I knew we were in for a treat. She stood up, and with the skill of a master raconteur, she held us captive with a few of her keepsake stories. Tut exceeds fabulous—she is Dalton royalty in that she exudes a graceful, elegant panache. Queen Tut!
Trying to capture the moment, I shot a short, wobbly video of Tut with my iPhone that night. In this clip, she tells a tale of a little pink rabbit a student gave to her years ago. Her story is reminiscent of "The Velveteen Rabbit," one of my favorite stories.
I plan to visit Ms. Tut in the future, armed with a smile, a fancy cupcake, and a more professional video camera. I want her to show me around that "keepsake room" as the video recorder rolls. I hope to do that soon—very, very soon.
Please join us. Keep the stories of your lifetime alive by sharing them with others. Don't know where to begin? Start with a keepsake, or two, or three. Buy a copy of Project Keepsake (www.ProjectKeepsake.com) and give it a try. I can help you. —Amber