Take a walk down 'Memory Lane'

I don’t think I ever wrote down my experiences in West Africa about when I was on a ship delivering U.S. Agency for International Development rice to a needy country. There I watched African workers, in the blazing hot sun, secretly slice open bags and stuff the pilfered grain down their pant legs while hoping the dock police wouldn’t catch them and beat them with night sticks.

This is just one of my experiences that I am writing down while sitting at my computer composing a document that outlines the details of my life’s story.

I may be part of a growing number of seniors who, at the urging of our families, are committing a chronicle of our lives to paper, or a computer disk, that can be passed down to current or future generations.

You don’t have to be a senior to start this adventure. After all, it is a living document that can be added to as life progresses. How many of us have any idea of the details of our parents' or grandparents' lives? We may know where they were born and where they lived, but many of the details probably are missing. Wouldn’t it have been nice if they had the ease of our modern word processing programs to write their own stories?

Jack Bentley has recently finished his story and graciously shared the details of his writing methods. He said the hardest part was getting started but the more he got into it, the more interesting it became. And he broke it down into sections so that he could skip back and forth as he remembered details. I am taking his advice as I write my document.

So, I am embarking upon this journey, not with ego involved, but with a sense of adventure as I remember details and commit them to the computer screen. As I go along, I email finished sections to my children for comments and what keeps me going is when they comment that they had never known a particular detail about me. It probably will keep me busy, on and off, for a year or so, like it did with Jack. But I think I will have fun as I remember more and more details and, of course, have my wife fill in those things I may have forgotten.

If you become serious about writing your own chronicle, an article in the Orange County Register of October 24, 2005, called “Pen Therapy,” mentioned courses available in Orange County to assist you. One such course is given at the UC Irvine Extension and is called, “Autobiography, Memoir or Fiction.” I also searched Google for “writing life story,” and got hundreds of hits.

I don’t want to imply that only the computer has made this endeavor possible because there have been many autobiographies or life stories written before this. However, modern word processing programs and the ease of saving sections as computer files have made this task so much easier. I am using Microsoft Word to write my story and I believe Jack used Microsoft Publisher to write his. And I back up to cd as I go along.

If you would like to hear more about writing life stories, or other computer topics, visit “Coffee and Computers” at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. ‘C’ Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit. There will be no meeting Friday, November 25 because the Senior Center will be closed.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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