Chris Stoesen Fiction: Thoughts on Stories

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thoughts on Stories

Growing up, my favorite stories were the ones that my parents told me about when they were my age and the things they did. My Mother grew up in Germany during the Second World War. My Dad lived in Pensacola during that same time. Two very different experiences. Both left me feeling how blessed I was to grow up in a relatively peaceful time. But it also has left me feeling that my own growing up stories are completely LAME by comparison.

My Dad grew up in the South when segregation was a daily reality. There was far more freedom for children to roam around and do things that would get folks arrested now. His friends had BB Gun wars, rubber band gun wars and made rubber band shooting tanks in order to play out the battles that they read about in newspapers and heard on the radio. They were depression kids. He had kids at his school beg him for apple cores to eat. In college, Dad got a summer job on an oil tanker passing through the Suez Canal in 1948 during Israel's War of Independence. He described troops marching across the bridges heading north while he sat on deck and watched. He had a colorful army career in Germany during the Korean War. All things I that I hung on to every word he said even though these things came out in casual conversation.

After Dad's passing, my Uncle filled in a few gaps that Dad had left out. All tales that left me in awe of the man even more. If you are going to be a character, it great to be an interesting one. Dad fit that bill.

Mom was no slouch when it came to backstory either. She described being a teenager on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall. She crossed multiple times before leading her family across to the west from Dessau. During the war, she lived in a castle with the Duke Von Anhalt. She came to America with a boyfriend who died after she arrived. Yet she stuck it out and made a life for herself, by herself in New York. She survived bombing attacks during the war and the American and later German occupation of her city.

The two met in New York and then moved to Florida. A perfect setting for two wonderful yet crazy individuals. I was blessed to know them let alone have them as parents.

How do you top colorful lives like that? Well, you can't. But the impact of their stories have stuck with me. Elements of them get woven into the stories that I write, sometimes without me realizing it. They passed on to me a love of reading. I love to learn as much as escape with a good book.

Where do your best stories come from? the ones you tell your kids or write or tell the other guys at the bar?

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