Monday Mar 03 2008
Local woman puts her life on the page
By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal Staff Writer
There's a recently published, limited-edition book making the conversational rounds at Auburn Ravine Terrace. You can't buy it at Barnes & Noble, and good luck finding it on Amazon. After years of compiling her life's history with a pen and paper, Auburn Ravine Terrace resident Dorothy Slack has published My Memories with the help of a computer-savvy friend and the staff at Kinkos. After I came here and heard other people's stories, I thought mine was different, the 95-year-old Slack said. I thought my children and their children might like to know about it. Slack said she started jotting down memories and piecing them together over time. I just started accumulating things I've kept over the years. I just started with, I was born, and I went from there, she said. Patty McNabb, Slack's favorite volunteer driver, typeset Slack's notes and designed the book. She asked me if she could type it for me, Slack said of McNabb. There were a lot of decisions to make ” Did she want to include photographs? What would be the best font size? ” and Slack said she and McNabb worked together through every step of the production process. Slack had about a dozen copies of the book printed for family members. My grandkids and my great-grandkids had no idea of some of the things I've done, she said. Slack's autobiography documents everything from her childhood and learning the ways of fur-trapping from her stepfather, to getting married and having children, friends and family, trying to make ends meet, work and professional training, traveling and many other details that make up a life well lived. Some of Slack's earliest memories involve her grandmother and her older sister Evelyn. Grandma Fry was a typical little Irish lady. She wasn't very tall. She had a warm complexion and red hair, she wrote. In the winter, she would take Evelyn and me for walks in the snow and she showed us how to lie down and make snow angels. In the spring she would take us for walks in the empty fields to see the beautiful spring wildflowers. One of the key players in Slack's autobiography is her late husband, Hank, whom she met while living in Washington. Slack said that after a while working in the fruit orchards, she got to know community members, some of whom enjoyed going out to the sand hills for target practice. One of the boys in the group was named Hank Slack, she wrote. He always seemed to hang behind a little longer after the others had left. The couple married in 1929 after the stock market crashed triggering the Great Depression. My wedding band was a narrow, platinum band and it had cost $1.00, she wrote. Faith Testa, director of marketing and admission at Auburn Ravine Terrace, said Slack's book has created quite a bit of buzz, with readings from the book scheduled Fridays. I think what makes it so special is that she is so quiet, Testa said. If you read the first few pages you'll get sucked in. Testa said she hopes Slack's autobiography sets the standard for other Auburn Ravine Terrace residents. I would encourage all of our residents to do this, she said. I'm sure they have a lot of stories we haven't heard. Slack said she's happy with how her memoir turned out. I think it's very nice, she said. I just can't believe the reception, because I didn't think anybody would be interested. The Journal's Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at email@example.com, or comment online at auburnjournal.com.