Sunday, October 9, 2011

Interview, Interview, Interview!!!

As far as I knew, my maternal grandmother, Mildred Gannan Robertson, had never ridden a bicycle, driven a car, or flown in an airplane. A few years before her death, my uncle Ron Robertson and I decided to interview her on camera, as she was blessed with a clear memory and good health. She and her sister Helen and brother Don were the last of their generation, and we wanted to record for posterity her memories of life as a young child, the Great Depression, World War II, and beyond. One story she told can serve as a lesson to my fellow family historians: don't make assumptions about your ancestors, because they just might surprise you.
It turns out that my grandmother HAD, in fact, flown in an airplane. When she was in her teens, a barnstormer came to Harrison County, Missouri, and was offering rides in a biplane for a small fee. She borrowed the money from her future sister-in-law, and off she went for a ride over the farm-dotted countryside. I can just imagine her as a young girl, flying high, laughing, wind-whipped hair, breathless after landing and thinking, what a great adventure I've just had! She never again flew in an airplane.
Had my uncle and I not interviewed her, we would never have known about her grand girlhood adventure, and would have assumed she always played it safe, feet firmly planted on the ground. Interview your living relatives if you're lucky enough to have some, you never know what you might find out!

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