Olentangy Valley News

History today

Got a story to tell? Here's your chance


Every day, we are making history, whether it is in a profound or simple way. Taking time to document our lives is most often done in a personal way, but contributing to an oral history project is a unique way to share your story with others.

The Powell Liberty Historical Society is interested in stories about your life in our community. What attracted you to this area? Has a teacher or coach been meaningful in your or a family member's accomplishments? Is there an event you recall about which a humorous or sad story can be told? Have you established a business here for a specific reason or do you have a special customer following?

Tim Steitz, a member of the board of the historical society, suggested an oral history project similar to StoryCorps, developed 10 years ago by National Public Radio. Its mission is "to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives."

If you have listened to these, you know there are some heartwarming stories. Some are simple; some are complex. You learn of tragedy and resilience, but also of joyful and memorable occasions.

We want to record short, 10- or 15-minute stories, generally about something specific that will tell about life in the early 21st century in Powell and Liberty Township. There will be no video recording, though we would like to take a photo of you to accompany this document, which will be stored electronically at the historical society.

We also plan to put these stories on our website, if permission is given.

Currently, you may listen to Marge Bennett speak about her sheep farm. Look for "Oral History" at powellhistory.org.

In the late 1990s, volunteers for our society used cassette tapes and transcribing equipment when interviewing longtime community members. I remember hearing some interesting things during those interviews.

George Hyland described finding himself and his buddies in the Olentangy Caverns when matches and flashlights to guide the way failed them. Norm Perry reported that Wayne Brown purchased strawberries from him and his father to sell in the Big Bear stores he founded.

Donna Lawrence talked about the very strict Mr. Grace, a teacher at the Powell School, who placed the eraser end of a pencil to someone's temple to get their attention. I think he made his point, because it is said he was an excellent teacher.

Those of us who met with these individuals heard many stories, and there were many questions and answers that will not be part of our oral history project today. We want to focus on one person telling a story.

You will have that opportunity Sunday, Sept. 8, during our "Good Ol' Days: Revisiting the 1800s and Early 1900s" event at 233 S. Liberty St. Stories will be recorded from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It would be helpful if you would contact us at info@powellhistory.org to set up a time and ask any questions about your participation.

Other dates and times can be scheduled as well. Between now and Sept. 8, you may find more stories on the website from a variety of people. We hope you will want to share your story so that future generations will have some insight into how we are living and what might be significant in our lives, individually and in the life of this community.

The "Good Ol' Days" event will offer something for the entire family. Children can see farm machinery, quilting, weaving, apple-cider pressing and a blacksmith. There will be antiques for sale along with tents of artisans and craftspeople. Garth's Auctions will appraise antiques from 1 to 3 p.m. Entertainment, re-enactors and food will round out the event.

Carole Wilhelm is a member of the Powell-Liberty Historical Society.