Today, there are so many tools one can use to learn about their family history and roots, including DNA testing. But that’s not the only way to do it. Sitting down and talking with parents, grandparents and other loved ones is another great way for people to learn about where they come from. After Maxine Oliver, 96-year-old resident of Mustang Creek Estates of Sachse, realized her then 50-year old son didn’t know where she grew up, she knew she had to do something to share her life story. This was around the same time Oliver visited a library and found out the only way to look up a book is to use the library computer. She came home and told her husband that if they want to continue living in this world, they would have to learn how to use a computer. Today, Oliver spends her time typing away, working on a book filled with more than 30 chapters about her experiences growing up in a very small town in Missouri. While the book is not quite finished, Oliver is excited to one day publish “Escape from Pittsville” so that her family can learn more about their history, and for anyone interested in knowing what it was like growing up on a farm in 1920s and 1930s.
“I can’t imagine handwriting this book, it would take me forever,” said Oliver. “I love using my computer. I even send emails to my family and research information that I need. These days, computers and technology in general are a part of our lives, although I know there are not many people in my age group who know how to use a computer. I learned to use it when I was about 78 years old, and today, it helps me tremendously with my book.”
The reason Oliver titled her book “Escape from Pittsville” is because she didn’t like living in Missouri. After she graduated college, she moved to California where she lived for about 20 years. She is a retired teacher who met her husband during one of her square-dancing classes. They were married for about 54 years, and after retirement they moved to Arizona together. Oliver has four children, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. They are all very excited to read her story once it’s finished. In her unpublished book, Oliver describes her experience growing up on a farm with no electricity, no telephone and with water they had to get from a well.
“A few years ago, one of my children asked me where I was from,” said Oliver. “That’s when I realized I have so much to tell them about my life and where they come from. I plan to include drawings
of our house and other things that will help the readers visualize the setting. I learned to write a life story in one of the classes I took after my retirement. I really enjoy it because it gives me something to do as well.”
“You don’t meet a tech-savvy senior like Maxine very often, and it is pretty amazing to watch her on her computer almost every day,” said Patricia Laurion, activity director at Mustang Creek Estates of Sachse. “Maxine has shared a few of her experiences growing up in such a small town and on a farm. She has been teasing us with snippets of the book and I just can’t wait to read it one day. We are very excited for her.”