|Each Time An Older Man or Woman Dies,|
|A Whole Library Is Lost.|
That quote was credited to an old Chinese Proverb and it was displayed over the counter of the Green Valley Library in Arizona. This was during the early 1990s as I was presenting seminars across the southern states at libraries, churches, retirement developments and many clubs, such as Kiwanis, where many interested people attended to learn about the process of writing their families' histories.
Please allow me to share a few of the wonderful highlights with you as to why and how I came to believe in family histories, which also led to my work over the last twenty years as a writer. Basically, my interest in recording family histories sprang from my youth when "Story Telling" was valued learning and entertainment. This is little different today as it was for past centuries during which various cultures and families have passed down their heritages around a tribal fire or in written form.
I grew up in a very isolated area high in the limestone region of the Black Hills of South Dakota. My father was kind of a "mountain-man" and made his living sort of "living off the land." He cut posts for ranchers, gathered spruce seeds for nurseries in South Carolina and performed a variety of other work throughout the year for "a little money from here and there." We only had company a few times a year, but when we did, the elders would sit around the fire in a room dim from kerosene lamplight in the evenings telling stories of "olden days." I, along with my siblings, would listen in fascination. Dad knew Deadwood Dick, a legendary pony express rider. As a younger man, Dad hunted with the aging Deadwood Dick and Dad inherited some of Deadwood Dick's pistols and an old riffle. But, there were many other stories told in "spell-binding description" by the elders and I never forgot my interest in these "human histories."
Dad was killed when I was age eleven and we moved away from high in the hills to the little town of Hill City, South Dakota, not far from Keystone and Mt. Rushmore. I finished eighth grade at Hill City, but Mother had a difficult time trying to find means to keep us together. After eighth grade, I began working and various jobs and then began hitchhiking throughout many states finding work here and there. All this time, I listened to the many stories of people who gave me rides or that I met in one circumstance or another. I finally ended up as a heavy-equipment operator in construction which finally led to me to find work in California. There I attended night school to earn a GED and became a Los Angeles city fireman. Still yearning to learn, I eventually traveled to Oregon where I earned a masters degree in education while working graveyard shift in a wholesale food warehouse.
My degree led to a teaching position in high school. From there my life led me to several other ventures including serving on the Eugene, Oregon city council, being elected Lane County Commissioner and then rebuilding a resort in the mountains for a large firm in San Francisco. In this remote setting I had very little to do in the evenings, so I sat, usually comforted by the fireplace, and wrote about experiences from my many memories. Soon thereafter, a good friend asked me to help his father record his life's story. That sponsored the desire in my mind to help other people record their mind's treasures from their pasts, but this didn't come about until ten years later. In the interim, I took a magazine-publishing position in Chicago and then moved the magazine to Vancouver, Washington, where I continued to publish until 1989. However, I never relinquished my desire to help people record their histories and I continued to provide many people with support throughout those years during which I developed many helpful guidelines. Finally in 1989, I decided to offer my experience and publishing knowledge to people on a full-time basis.
I then published my guidelines as Life's Footprints and soon thereafter Sears' Mature Outlook published a nationally-circulated feature story about my books and my services. That feature story prompted thousands of orders and personal letters of appreciation. People throughout the total United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands wrote me and shared many memorable events about their own families and histories. These included favorite cookie recipes, favorite quotes from the Bible and so much more. I can honestly say that I have never had a set of my books returned or a dissatisfied buyer-rather, many people ordered additional sets as gifts for friends.
From 1989 until 1999, I worked mainly in South Florida and my office was in Miami. Shortly after settling in Miami, I became well-known throughout the United States among large corporations and people of means who have paid me exceptionally well for my writing, formatting, printing and binding services.
Throughout this period, I additionally assisted many people of lesser means to publish their own written stories and other recorded memories. I provided them with my services from formatting their writings, including picture placement and captions, developing specifications for their books and then printing and binding their books with gold filigree printed covers. I have also custom designed and printed covers, then laminated them to keep them clean. There are many economical ways by which I can print and bind beautiful books without the expense of "going on press" which is not cost-effective for small numbers of books. However, much more of that is explained in my Life's Footprints' book set.
Also, during the early 1990s, I performed many writing projects related to the Dade County School System through the Enviro-Cops program. This was funded by Dade County along with other institutions and private companies. For example, I wrote and designed environmental crossword puzzles for early elementary school level children. These crossword puzzles cover some forty areas of learning for children-bicycle safety, self-esteem, good food choices, garbage, poisons, home safety and many more.
During my spare time, I also wrote several children's stories including a series about Candle's Adventures in OOzooland. In brief, my stories are educational as well as entertaining. Over the past six years I have sent these story manuscripts to many teachers, parents and children's book store owners throughout the United States and received exceptional feedback concerning children's enjoyment of reading or listening to them.
Finally in May 1999 I moved back to the Northwest and in August 1999, I published the first story in the series of OOzooland-Candle And The Magic Boat, additional stories in this series are now being illustrated for publication, as well as my "stand alone" child story; The Mouse who Wanted to Stay in the Trap. I have also published another great story, The Father Of All Trees, written by my friend, Peter Townsend. It is exceptional for children of many ages and an enjoyment for many adults.
I invite you to order the first three books as named above for your children or grandchildren.
As for your own life's adventures, I sincerely believe that your own
autobiography/family history is the greatest gift you can ever provide
for your loved ones. If you are interested in any of my services, you
are welcome to call, write or e-mail me.
Robert E. Wood
Author / Publisher
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