Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Telephone Game - A Post Worth Repeating!


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I published this a few years ago, and now as a new Grandma, and working full time, and just moving to a new home, I find this story is worth repeating. I hope you agree.

I truly hated doing research in college. Hours in a dusty library (remember those), looking for answers to someone else's boring questions. Very rarely did I happen on to anything that awakened my imagination. Yet I fumbled forward through bone dry historical texts, praying something poignant would pop out of a book so I could finally finish my report and join my friends at the university pub.
     It wasn't until I became a writer, much later in life, that I learned how interesting research could be. History is amazing. Every event that occurred before set in motion the cause and effect for our modern world. Everything we know, do, have, want, need, and hear has a history to tell. But here's where it gets a little curious. If we take the willy-nilly subjectivity of human nature and mix it with a little innocent exaggeration, how can we be so sure those recollections are the absolute truth?
     How could those well-intentioned historians remain unaffected by time and circumstance and possibly even social pressures the same as you and me? Even an innocent sugar-coating could skew the facts exponentially. What if we've not been given the actual truth but rather the 'opinion' of the author instead?
     One small example, the fairly well-known idiom, Circle the Wagons. My family used it often when I was a child and sometimes even now. If a loved one needed support or protection, we'd come together to help however we could. We'd Circle the Wagons. But several meanings have evolved since it was first coined in the 1800s.
     I always thought it referred to settlers on an old west wagon train who created a circle of protection from raiding marauders. But further research revealed another meaning. Circle the Wagons was the practice of settlers using a circle of wagons to corral their very expensive cattle. Hah? No way. How did that get so mixed up?
     So, I wondered, how do we know what is fact and what is fudged in all things historical? Does it matter if we've learned the complete truth? Or is it better to carry on the slightly watered-down or worse yet, overly dramatized, version for those who follow in our footsteps? Has the recollection of events evolved into something far from the truth as in the fun, yet revealing Telephone Game suggests?
     This is just me going off on a philosophical journey. It makes me thankful I write fiction, so if I miss a fact or two, I'll be okay. What are your thoughts?

Thanks for listening.
Rhonda Frankhouser
Award-Winning Contemporary and Western Romance Author


1 comment:

Julie Lence said...

I always thought Circle the Wagons meant the settlers heading west circled their wagons at night, too. I never knew about guarding the cows. Interesting piece of history. Thank you, Rhonda!