My husband Gary is a man of many stories. He’s served in the U.S. Army, taught high school business classes, coached a winning football team, worked as a school administrator, a firefighter, business manager at a university, traveled extensively and he’s never met a person he didn’t enjoy talking to.
Gary often doesn’t recall the exact details, but it never stops him from telling the tale. Not so long ago, we watched a movie from the 1940s, called The Farmer’s Daughter. He suddenly said, “I sat next to that woman on a plane once.”
“You sat next to Loretta Young?!” He hesitated for just a fraction of a second before saying yes. But it was long enough for me to flash on other confidently told Gary stories that have a fact-based core, but often dubious supporting details.
Upon repeated questioning, he gradually acknowledged that it might not have been Loretta Young, it may not have been on a flight to Michigan, but he stuck to his assertion that it was definitely someone famous. That I believe. But whether it was Loretta Young, Loretta Lynn or Coretta Scott King, is lost to the ages.
What got me started on this train of thought was a visit with my dad’s favorite cousin. Lois is lovely and kind and at 90-plus, she has many stories to tell. Her husband was in the Air Force and during that time she and her children traveled with him to many parts of the world.
“I fell madly in love with John when I was in high school, and I was lucky enough to have him for more than 50 years. I don’t watch much television, but when I see a travel show sometimes I think, ‘Oh, we walked on that street,’ or ‘Oh, I’ve been to that spot before.’ We danced on the beach at Ipanema once. We had so much fun that night.”
Everybody has a story; I learned that when I was a young reporter. When Lois told me hers, I had a glimpse of the giddy young girl she once was. She’s still a favorite relative from another generation, but now she’ll also always be the girl who fell madly in love and the happy wife who spent a romantic evening dancing on the beach.
Our stories embody and enrich our lives, and when we share them they can enrich the lives of others as well. The Naked City was a long ago television show that I was deemed too young to watch. But I can remember hearing its iconic closing lines wafting up to my bedroom through the registers from the living room below.
There are eight million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them.
This week I hope to learn some new stories. I hope you do, too.