Studying the Past; Shaping the Future


Today I’m honored to introduce you to my Mom, Ritchie Hale. She is sharing a personal journey she has been on for many years. When I approached her about sharing in this 30 Days of Hobbies series, we talked about which of her many hobbies she should focus on and share with you. She is an amazing crafter who can create anything from cardboard and tape, loves to take pictures and make memories with her grandchildren.

But the hobby she is the most focused on at this season of her life is her study of family history. She has a story to share and a past to remember. Read her story of how studying the past is shaping the future.

Studying the Past; Shaping the Future

As a high school student I felt that history class was boring. I could find no value in the memorization of seemingly random facts that didn’t “connect” to my life. Many years later when my 15-year-old son was digging through old scrapbooks and discovered the picture of his long-deceased cousin, history took on a new life. He had known his great, great Aunt Hallie, and knew her son had died in the Battle of the Bulge in Germany. After perusing through many pictures and news clippings, his passionate question burned deep into my heart. “Who will ever remember his sacrifice for our freedom? Someone MUST remember!” That question has led me on a journey that has lasted more than 20 years. Who indeed would remember the sacrifice this young soldier had made.

studying the past shaping my future

My hobby of sleuthing out details and following leads wherever they take me has not become a business, and I certainly don’t have an income, yet. For now it’s the joy of learning and “connecting the dots” historically, and the random, free-style research.

I have collected letters, photographs, documents, diaries, and clues. I love the quest of following each clue, and then as new information reveals, following the next lead. My search has put me on a plane to Seattle, WA, and on numerous road trips into 5 states. I’ve tramped up and down the side streets of small towns, knocked on doors of strangers whose names have appeared in misc documents, and researched documents in old dusty archives of small-town libraries.

ritchie history paper timeline

If you have an inquisitive mind and enjoy clue-finding, research, discovery, intrigue, and simply a quest, I recommend you discover someone of interest; possibly in your own family history, and then launch out on the journey. I learned along the way that I would need a careful filing system because of the volume of material I was collecting. At first, I was jotting notes on tablet paper, napkins, or scraps…but sheer volume has demanded more organization. Since organization is something I love to do, I turned to small portable file boxes and I file facts by year. This way, I can keep all clues and tid-bits together chronologically. I also created a simple timeline in a Word document that I continue to add to as new facts reveal themselves.

ritchie history files
ritchie history trays

I have discovered history as more than a subject to be studied. History is not only my past, it is my present, and is shaping my future. I can see the road ahead more clearly and understand life in a richer way as I understand up close and personal the history of a real person who has walked before me. As I take the flat “paper-doll” photograph of a young man who died in a war nearly 70 years ago, and I add dimension, flesh him out in real-life experiences, meet the people he knew, and engage in activities and things he experienced, I change. He becomes more than merely history. Along the way, I’m just having fun. I can’t wait for my next road trip to follow up some new leads I discovered this week. Oh yeah, and watch for my book on the shelf – someday!

sharon and ritchieAbout Ritchie
Ritchie Hale is a pastor’s wife, retired teacher, writer and skilled crafter. She and her husband live in northern KY where they are enjoying being close to family and friends. Mom to 3 and Nonna to 10 wonderful grandkids!

And of course…. she’s my Mom!

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