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Writing Family Memoirs: MEMOIRS CAPTURE SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENTS IN FAMILY HISTORIES

One of the most interesting aspects of my work is in writing family memoirs by interviewing the eldest member of the family and capturing the significant moments of their lives. I am honored to provide this service to people all over the world through telephonic interviews as well as Skype interviews, and sometimes in person. By doing these interviews, I am able to record stories from senior family members whose legacies then live on to benefit future generations.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a variety of interesting people, such as:

  • Lawrence, a wealth advisor and investment broker who wanted his family’s ethics and values to be preserved for future generations
  • Vito, an Italian-American banking official whose very colorful memories of growing up on Long Island may someday become a comedic screen play
  • Gloria, a psychotherapist in Burbank, whose traumatic journey to her present career began with her parents sending her from Iraq to America, all alone, at the age of six to attend boarding school
  • Israel, a Chicago-born Hasidic Jew who defied his family by choosing a career path other than that of a rabbi, breaking their centuries-old lineage of high – ranking religious leaders

Everyone has a story to tell, whether of family members who fought in the war, grew up during the depression, or survived difficult circumstances that they wish to impart to others.

For my own family history, I chose to blaze paths in all four directions through my mother’s and father’s parents’ lineages, and in doing so, I learned who my ancestors were and what their struggles entailed in coming to America from Russia, Germany and Austria. Like most kids of the Baby Boomer age, I always tried to blend in and not be different, but now as I get older, it’s important to me to know more about the past.

My family histories were interesting and painful, joyous and sad, but most of all, they were enlightening. I got to interview more than 35 surviving members of one branch of my family and about two dozen for the remaining 3 branches. I learned of family feuds that kept going until death, of commonalities in the causes of death of my ancestors, and I learned of tragic losses that people bore and survived. It was fulfilling to produce these stories and it brought the surviving relatives all closer together.

Memories are important – and that’s why I love to write people’s memoirs. Once I capture stories on paper they live on after a person’s life ends. Story telling is an art and involves the ability to compassionately listen to the telling of stories, along with the ability to document and retell it in living color. It is the type of writing I enjoy doing most and the one that gives me the greatest satisfaction in doing what I do as Writer For Hire.

If you are interested in capturing the memories of a loved one, don’t wait too long. Memories can fade as one ages and waiting too long can make a big difference in the accuracy of a story. Most of all, once a person passes, there is often a big gap in information that no one else can fill.

How does it work? The process is relatively easy:

A family member serves as my point of contact with the loved one who I speak with by phone or sometimes in person. I then document their memories and turn it into a story. The process can be as short as one afternoon or it can evolve into a series of conversations that are told in the form of an essay. If more than one person wants to interact with me, I can involve them in the conversation or speak with them privately. For more information on Writing Memoirs, please email: pat@writerpatkramer.com or call me: (818) 353-5699.

ALL I WANT FOR BREAKFAST IS TOAST WITH SLICED CHEESE: A TRIBUTE TO MY DAD

As I was eating my toast with sliced cheese this morning, I had a flashback to my dad, Lester Kramer, sitting across the table from me at his home in Framingham, Massachusetts ten years ago. My dad was sick with cancer and nearing his last year of life, but I remember so well his simple contentment with a breakfast of toast and sliced cheese. I realized in that moment that I had taken on some of my dad’s habits – not only his culinary “likes” but his speech and expressions, and also his appreciation for nature, birds, and the beauty that one tends to see when we aren’t preoccupied with everything else in our busy lives.

But getting back to the toast, I started thinking about the different kinds of toast my dad loved: light rye, dark rye and pumpernickel – all reflections of his early life in Worcester, MA during the depression years. It was a very different time: loaves of bread probably sold for ten cents and sitting at the table with your family in the morning and having breakfast was a real event.

I thought about how my dad and my grandfather tried to pass on these traditions to me by taking me, as a small child, to Water Street – then, the Jewish commercial section of Worcester, where there were two bakeries (Lederman’s and Widoff’s), a produce market (Sheppie’s), and two good delis (The Broadway and Weintraub’s). I have fond memories of shopping for produce with my grandfather when I was six or seven years old.

Many years later, I got one of my earliest jobs working at Widoff’s Bakery as counter help. It didn’t last long – maybe three months – but I got to be a part of what was a very important business in my community and of course, I got to learn humility by working very hard for minimum wage!

What I know now, as an adult, is that bakers are a very unrecognized and under-appreciated profession. These are people who are up at 3 a.m. to bake fresh bread, muffins, pastries and other delicacies that we take for granted. They don’t make much money and it’s very hard work as well as very long days.

So today, I’m reflecting on the memories I still hold dear from my childhood of that time from the past when my dad and I got to share breakfast and he commented that all he really wanted for breakfast was a piece of toast with cheese (not melted) and a sliced orange – and that was enough.

Today, I’m so grateful that I can relive these memories. They are all valuable reference points to who I am as a person and the values I carry forward.

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Pat Kramer, aka “Writer For Hire,” is a professional business writer, ghostwriter, and content & social media writer who helps individuals better express themselves and improve the visibility of their business branding campaigns. For more info, see: www.writerpatkramer.com.

Congressman Adam Schiff Holds Climate Change Event at CalTech

By Pat Kramer

Congressman Adam Schiff addressed a full house at Cal Tech’s Beckman Auditorium on Friday, April 21, 2017 to speak about Climate Change. The U.S. Representative is a strong environmental proponent and, as such, is working hard to hold the line on the divisive comments about climate change and global warming by the current administration.

Speaking about their research on that subject were Alex Hall, Ph.D. – Professor of UCLA’s Department of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences; Francesca Hopkins, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Climate Change & Sustainability at the University of California, Riverside’s Department of E Sciences; and Tapio Schneider, Ph.D., professor of Environmental Science and Engineering at California Institute of Technology. Each responded to questions posed by audience members, which included scientists, environmentalists, and students interested in the future of our state.

The Congressman stated that we have taken steps backwards in our former progress on Climate Change with cuts by the current administration to Clean Energy programs and research. Professor Hall pointed out that if things keep going as they have, by the middle of this century the number of “extreme heat” days (95 degrees and over) will increase from 50-55 days at present to possibly 100 days per year. That would then impact our water resources, the sustainability of our water supply, and could lead to rising sea levels and more wildfires.

If, however, steps can be taken to reduce carbon emissions, the scientists agreed that our climate will stabilize.

Congressman Adam Schiff is the U.S. Representative for California’s 28th District. He’s been a member of Congress since 2001. You can contact his Burbank office at: (818) 450-2900 or go to: http://schiff.house.gov.

LOCAL RESIDENTS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT EFFORTS TO COMBAT METHAMPHETAMINE USE IN SUNLAND-TUJUNGA

Drug-fueled crimes and fear-inducing encounters with methamphetamine users in the Sunland-Tujunga community will be the focus of the next Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Watch meeting, taking place on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at 6 p.m. at North Valley City Hall, 7747 Foothill Boulevard, Tujunga. This meeting brings together residents who have experienced run-ins with those on drugs and families who need resources to deal with their meth-afflicted family members, with the Los Angeles Police Department Senior Lead Officers, and their SMART and PET Teams which provide services to those with mental health issues and drug addictions in Los Angeles and L.A. County.

Whether or not a resident has reported a crime, this information can be very valuable as it will provide direction on what to say and what “not” to say to amped-up individuals whom they may encounter on their street or property. “Knowing what to do to protect one’s property and to ensure one’s peace of mind is the utmost concern of our community,” states Jon von Gunten, Neighborhood Watch representative to the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council. “Of course it’s always best to document individuals who may be committing a crime, but if that puts you in harm’s way, then it’s best to protect your safety first.”

This meeting was organized along with Region 1 (Sunland) representative Pat Kramer, who has received numerous calls from stakeholders in north Sunland, as well as in other parts of the Sunland-Tujunga community regarding this growing issue. “Residents are angry and they have a right to be,” says Kramer. “In some cases, their property has been damaged or stolen or they have personally been threatened by individuals who we suspect were trying to generate money for their drug habit. We can’t turn our backs on this issue any longer. There has to be a course of action that makes people feel safe and if it isn’t being addressed by the LAPD, then it needs to be by some other agency.”

The Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council holds regular board meetings on the second Wednesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. at North Valley City Hall. Additionally, the Neighborhood Watch, which is a division of STNC, holds three monthly meetings to address crime issues:

The Tujunga – specific Neighborhood Watch meeting takes place on the first Tuesday of every month at McDonald’s restaurant, 6510 Foothill Boulevard, in the children’s play room, at 8:30 a.m. with Senior Lead Officer Gloria Caloca.

The Sunland – specific Neighborhood Watch meeting takes place on the first Wednesday of every month at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices training room, 8307 Foothill Boulevard, in Sunland at 8:30 a.m. with Senior Lead Officer Cesar Contreras.

The combined Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Watch meeting takes place on the 3rd Tuesday of every month at North Valley City Hall, 7747 Foothill Boulevard, Tujunga at 6 p.m. Parking is in the rear parking lot on Wyngate.

For more information on what STNC can help you with, contact Jon Von Gunten, STNC Neighborhood Watch Rep at: jonvgstnc@hotmail.com, Pat Kramer, STNC Region 1 Rep at: patkramerstnc@gmail.com or Ana Orudyan, Region 1 Rep at: anaorudyanstnc@gmail.com.

To report a crime, call: 911 for any emergency or a crime in progress. Otherwise, call the LAPD FOOTHILL STATION: 818-756-8861, for guidance, admin & follow-up. Additionally, you can contact 877-ASK-LAPD (877-275-5273) for other non-emergencies.

Additionally, here are some helpful phone numbers and emails to have on hand:

Call Senior Lead Officers for non-emergencies like suspicious or dicey people, excess noise, illegal parking, and speeders: 818-756-8866.

GANGS, DRUGS: Lt. Solano: 818-897-6081 or email: 26339@lapd.lacity.org

NARCOTICS: Det. Coyle, 818-834-3136, 33128@lapd.lacity.org

TRAFFIC: Officer Flores, (818) 644-8142, 30658@lapd.lacity.org

Remember to report every crime factually to LAPD: Accurate reports help with getting more police cars and officers!

 

Why We Celebrate Presidents’ Day

Presidents’ Day is a state and federal holiday celebrated this year on Monday, February 20th to honor the birthday of our nation’s founder, George Washington. The holiday goes all the way back to 1885 and is still referred to as “Washington’s Birthday.” Although his birthday was actually February 22nd, it is always celebrated on the 3rd Monday of February after the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed in 1971 to allow for 3-day weekends for the nation’s workers.

While many people think of Presidents’ Day as a commercial holiday, deluged with commercial advertising to create more commerce, it’s important that we remember from where we came. George Washington was one of the most important figures in the founding of this country and President’s Day is a way to pay homage to his life and where we are today, because of the role he played.

Born in 1732, George Washington served as the Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, which lasted from 1775 to 1783. In that role, he was victorious in establishing the colonial forces as the victors over the well-trained British Army. Prior to that role, he served in the French and Indian War (1754 – 1763). In 1787, he was elected president of the convention that wrote the U.S. Constitution and two years later, became the first president of the United States, serving two terms: (1789 – 1797). He died at the age of 67 at his Virginia plantation, Mt. Vernon three years after ending his second term. His legacy included his attributes of strength, integrity and national purpose.

Some interesting facts about George Washington:

  • His only trip outside the borders of America was in 1751 when he accompanied his half-brother, Lawrence, to Barbados. Although his brother’s tuberculosis improved from the warm climate, George contracted small pox which permanently scarred his face. This is apparent in portraits of Washington that we see today.
  • One of Washington’s first roles in the military was taking on the role of Commander of the Virginia militia in 1752, even though he had no previous military experience. He rapidly gained experience by leading troops in the French and Indian War and eventually was put in charge of all of Virginia’s militia forces. In 1759, he was elected to Virginia’s House of Burgesses, serving until 1774.
  • Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis, who was a widow at the time with two children. The couple never had any children of their own.
  • The war against the British lasted for 8 years but there were few military wins for the Americans during that time.
  • Washington’s troops were poorly trained and had scant supplies – often lacking food, ammunition and it is said, shoes, during the winter.
  • Washington’s ability to motivate them led to the ultimate victory in the Revolutionary War when, with the aid of the French, the Continental Forces captured the British troops fighting under British General Cornwallis in Yorktown, Virginia, ending the war for independence and making General Washington a national hero.
  • George Washington was inaugurated as President at the age of 57 on April 30, 1789 in New York City and lived in both New York and Philadelphia during his presidency, as the White House was not yet built in Washington, D.C.
  • In his farewell address, Washington urged the new nation to maintain the highest standards, domestically, and to keep involvement with foreign powers to a minimum. That address is still read each February in the U.S. Senate to commemorate Washington’s birthday.
  • Today, his face is seen on the dollar bill and the quarter, more than 200 years after his death.
  • At the time of his death in 1799, George Washington owned 300 slaves. However, during his years in office, he became opposed to slavery and – long before President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, willed that his slaves been freed at the time of his wife’s passing.

Pat Kramer, aka “Writer For Hire,” is a business writer, ghostwriter and contributing writer to Crescenta Valley Weekly. Read more at: www.writerpatkramer.com.