I’m currently on the move: stay tuned
Welcome back. The dictionary defines “biography” as a detailed accounting of a person’s life, highlighting the significant events that occurred during that lifetime.
Typically there are two approaches to these stories: the first is “autobiography” which is written by the person himself, with or without the assistance of another writer, sometimes called a “ghost writer”. The second approach is a biography written in the third person and there are many famous examples of this type of biography, particularly biographies of famous historical figures. If the biography is authorized by the subject, the subject frequently assists the writer by providing access to personal research materials and giving interviews.
I have written both types of biography and I am currently at work on a project for a private company that will include 50 authorized biographies of people from all over America.
Written biographies, as opposed to verbal story telling, began in the middle Ages when the written word itself became more common. Monks and priests used biographies to spread information about Christianity in an attempt to inspire converts. Usually these were stories about the lives of saints, popes and martyrs. With the invention of paper around 1258 written biographies became even more common and began to portray the lives of poets, artists and royalty as well as religious figures.
In the Americas biographies were seen as a way to create understanding about the “New World”. When Benjamin Franklin’s life story was published in 1791 it became a model for “modern” American writers because of its straightforward style.
By the 1920s biographies were extremely popular with the American people and Hollywood began producing films based on the lives of famous people, including many historical figures.
The book I am working on falls in between. The people I am writing about aren’t saints or monks but they are also not Hollywood celebrities or influential political figures. These are everyday people who still have a unique and often moving story of their own.
The themes in their lives are universal: coping with tragedy, love of family and faith in God. Like so many people, they all working hard to get ahead. They range in age from the early twenties to well over sixty and are spread out geographically from coast to coast and border to border.
The hope is that these stories will encourage others facing obstacles in their lives. I know they are an inspiration to me as I criss cross from California to New York with many stops along the way, seeing American through the eyes of working people.
Over the past nine years I’ve had the opportunity to write about several of my friends in this column and I thought I’d wrap up with a few “bios” of my own. I first met the late Tommy Morrison in Tulsa in 1991. At the time Rocky V was just coming out and Tommy was a big star in Tulsa. Our meeting took place at what was then the hottest sports bar in town called the Outback Sports Café. The Outback was run by another sports celebrity in Tulsa whom I’ve also written about, Charlie Mitchell.
A person of his status could have been a bit stuck up but Tommy wasn’t that kind of guy. He was friendly to everyone which was good news for me. I was working for Mitchell at the time and with the best upper cut in boxing, Tommy could have been trouble but he was just fun to be around. Even after defeating George Foreman and winning the heavy weight title of the world two years later, Tommy didn’t change.
Another man I’ve mentioned in past articles is Virgil Gaede who for years served as the Chairman of the Bi-Plane Expo. It also wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention his wife Lavonne. Together they served on many committees, volunteering hundreds of hours for the good of our community.
I have also written about Alan Carlson, Bill Creel, Craig Woods, Leva Dunlap and many more who have left us. They are all history now but they are people whom many of us knew and still miss. My hope is that they will never be forgotten.
Till next week I’ll see ya down the road…..