Posted by: David Carlson | January 6, 2011

Boomer Express – Memoirs Abound

Read the About statement at the top of this blog.

The Boomer Express float in the Tournament of Roses Parade was sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association. What else do we 1946 Boomers have to look forward to besides Medicare this year?

Did anyone notice?  The first decade of the 21st Century is over.

Ten years ago today, January 6, 2001, I felt too young to retire.  It seemed like a quick, extremely stressful decision to take the 3M severance package and run.  The executive director of my division tried to talk me out of it.  My immediate supervisor didn’t know I was old enough.  My department of four men had had their jobs eliminated.  My three coworkers obviously were old enough, and I might have claimed age discrimination had I not been offered the package.  Two hundred other coworkers had their jobs eliminated in the Year 2000, most of them effective December 31, like me.

My wife and I moved permanently from the Twin Cities to Little Marais,  ten years ago this April.  She quit her job as Head of Reference (Library) at the Minnesota History Center.  We briefly considered renting a high rise condo in Downtown St. Paul, within walking distance of her job, and maintaining two residences.  We already subscribed to two local newspapers on the North Shore of Lake Superior.  The Lake County Chronicle in Two Harbors posted a job announcement in March for Historic Site  Tour Guides/Interpreters at Split Rock Lighthouse.  It was a case of who you know, not what you know.  We already knew the Manager, but went through the job interviews like anyone else.

Stressful, yes, and the doors of opportunity flew open on the move north.  From our experience as Baha’i s, there seemed to be some urgency in making the move.  The movement itself seemed directed,  but the reason wasn’t obvious.  We became a Registered Baha’i Group on April 21, 2001, and fulfilled a goal of the global Baha’i Five-year Plan.

Everything worked in our favor.  The new job at Split Rock introduced us to 45 new coworkers.  Right away we had connections to a wide community that stretched more than 45 miles along Highway 61, and 15 miles inland.  The Little Marais -Finland – Silver Bay carpool to Split Rock ran through October 2010.

Unlike 2001, my theme in reviewing the  Year 2010: Nothing Worked Out As Planned.  I’m not the only one who wrote that in their year-end summaries.

My wife and I will deliver letters of resignation to our Split Rock managers next week.  The Split Rock 2010 season was spectacular – the Centennial of the first operation of the light station, July 31, 1910, the Big Birthday.  I lit the beacon in the lighthouse at the end of my shift as Keeper, the final day of the season, October 24.   We made a firm commitment to retire in 2011.

Endless  memoirs have been published by celebrities who were born in 1946.  I gave up on George Bush’s Decision Points, one of several ebooks I downloaded to the Kindle.  Keith Richards’ memoir is great, but I downloaded only the free sample. Patti Smith’s Just Kids inspired me.  My life was nothing like hers, Keith Richards’, or George Bush’s.

My audience is very small, but I was surprised this morning to find a legitimate solicitation by email to have a commercial website posted on my blogs.  I turned it down, responded, but said I probably wouldn’t shop on their website.

I want to emulate two writers of historical  memoirs, Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain.  Twain says he lied about himself, not only in the Autobiography just published, but also in his novels and travelogues, which he intended to be autobiographical.  He hated Franklin’s self-promotion.  I thought it was good history.

I don’t  want to make myself look good in my memoirs, or publish self- delusions of grandeur.  I won’t shy away from culturally sensitive issues. No need to wait a hundred years so my children and grandchildren can’t read it.  There will be an unabridged version for them to read after my passing.



  1. Congrats on retiring again. I’m jealous that you got to light the light on your last day AND be there for the 100 year aniversary. Enjoy the new-found free time, you earned it.

  2. Nice reflection!

  3. Appreciate critiques as I proceed with memoirs stories. Remember the principles of storytelling. Stories within stories, each story makes a single point. End of story should not wimp out, and potentially could replace the lead paragraph at the top.

    What other tests of good writing do I need to improve?

    Who’s my audience? What’s culturally sensitive? What is inappropriate for public broadcast?

  4. Remember one of the basic elements of a story is the scene. How do you set the scene and describe it well enough for the reader to place himself or herself in it? And then what action takes place within that scene before you move on to exposition or the next scene?

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