Friday, July 21, 2017


Every family has stories. Some of the stories contain the trauma, hard luck, and drama that follow certain members. Some members seem to glide quietly through life without too much disruption. Other stories fill a room with laughter.  What are your family stories?

My dad's parents had 7 children. They lived in the middle of farm country in Minnesota. At a reunion with 77 cousins where everyone around me descended from or were related by marriage to that couple, I listened as some of the old stories brought us together again.

Though none of my cousins remembered my grandparents dancing,
this drawing captures the joy and light-hearted fun that is part of my family's heritage.                  
drawing by Ralph C. Heimdahl

We all had tales of family members, but the stories we all remembered were told by my Uncle Kermit years ago. With his dry wit, Kermit used to keep us in laughter with the tales of the two bachelor tenant farmers who lived on my aunt and uncle's farm. The stories are named the Charlie Arnie stories and everyone at the reunion laughed when someone just mentioned his name.

Charlie Arnie was an uncomplicated man who took things literally. When his partner got lost one day, Charlie reported his disappearance. When asked what his partner looked like, Charlie Arnie replied, "He was wearing a new pair of overalls and a hat." At that time, in farm country that could describe just about anyone.

That's all there was to Kermit's story, just a few phrases that caught a picture of the consternation and amusement revolving around Charlie Arnie. He became so well known in the small community where he lived that they named a one-block street in his honor, Charlie Arnie Way.

Before all my aunts and uncles died, I decided to ask my relatives to remember a short anecdote about their lives growing up (mostly in Minnesota) as a Heimdahl. I asked each one to answer, "I remember...." I collected the responses in a book, which we printed and distributed to all the relations. I was pleased to see younger cousins at the reunion reading the book, which was part of the display of family artifacts brought to the reunion.

Do you have any family stories you would like to preserve? Start by asking the question,

"I remember...."

Heimdal, the guardian of the rainbow in Norse mythology


  1. I just finished writing a poem that will be read to my friend Beth Batchelor on her 100th birthday this Saturday. It is a remember poem. It is a page long wish I could publish it here for you but may be too long.

    1. Thanks for sending it, Caroline. Submit your poem to Story Circle Network, an online forum for women writers. They are a very supportive group. Lynn Goodwin also belongs. I have a link to SCN on the right column under Favorites.

  2. I remember that when my mother was pregnant with her fifth child her neighbors and friends gave her a piano for a shower present since she didn't have one and was a piano player. I guess we must have had plenty of kids clothes already. She was absolutely thrilled!

    1. What a wonderful shower present from her neighbors, Jan. There's a story!

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