On the wall of my office hangs a beat-up sign that says “Breslau Farm.” More than sixty years ago, that sign stood on the corner of Scantic Road and Route 5 in East Windsor, Connecticut. It pointed to my father’s farm, our farm. Now it presides over a bulletin board full of notes for writing a book about my father, Sam Breslau.
Am I writing a memoir? A personal history? A biography? Many years ago, I interviewed my father Sam using a little mini cassette recorder. Recently, I finally listened to all the tapes and transcribed them. I was surprised that it wasn’t upsetting to hear his voice. I had thought it would make me sad, but instead I felt soothed, comforted.
I’m writing about Jewish chicken farmers immigrating from Russia. About my father Sam – a man who did good deeds – as Stephen described him, he was a “Good Deed Doer” the title the Wizard of Oz gave the Tin Man. Sam was a mitzvah man.
When Stephen invited me to write Pilgrim Maya with him, we had a wonderful, fluid writing method that involved passing a single file back and forth, editing pages, adding more and sending the file back. It was a dynamic collaboration. We were able to finish Pilgrim Maya in less than a year. I believe Pilgrim Mara will eventually delight a host of readers.
It has taken decades for me to begin Sam the Mitzvah Man, this book about my father. How long will it take me to finish it? Only time will tell . . .
Have any of you started to write a memoir or a personal history of family? We’d love to hear about what you are writing.