head saying “record what your mother is telling you about the family history.”
The next day I set out to buy myself a camcorder and started recording the oral history that my mother passed down to me.
My mother’s memory was sharp and if she said it happen you can bet you last dollar she knew what she was talking about. My mother Isabell Harrell Cook grew up in Amite, Louisiana on a farm. Her father Jasper Harrell, Sr. was a farmer and her mother Josephine Richardson Harrell was a housewife. Isabell was one of ten children born to Jasper and Josephine. Our family roots runs deep in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana.
Mom laughs each time she tell the story about how she didn’t like to work in the field picking beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables. She said that she was afraid of worms so she would stay inside and cook for everyone. She enjoyed hearing her father brag about her cooking.
Storytelling is known in the African culture as the griots. It is the way that we teach our history, pass on family traditions, legacies and a way to teach life skills.
Every family has a storyteller or griot that is filled with stories. There are many stories waiting to be shared and past down to other family members and generations. These rich stories can entertain us, teach us and give us example to live by from our ancestors. Our ancestors lives in each of us because of these shared stories. These stories can unlock so many mystery of our past. Every story has a meaning for each of us. One of the greatest gifts that we can share is a collection of oral histories that can touch and inspire our lives today.
I often hear people say “I wish I would have talked to my grandparents or parents or other family members before they died.” At the time, we do not think about talking to them and recording their stories. It’s after the death of our family members do we realized just how important it was to talk with that family member. Every story is unique and a journey that is yet be unfold. If you have the opportunity to talk with the elders and other family members about your family oral history do not hesitate. The cemeteries are full of unpublished history and stories. I am truly grateful for my mother the griot of our family. To learn more about our rich history and culture, please go to; www.facebook.com/PreservingOurHistoryinTangipahoa&St. HelenaParishes,Louisiana.