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Carol Perkins: Investigative journalism is hard on the ego

Carol Perkins and Susan Chambers embark on an ambitious post-war history project, uncover some unflattering truths in high-school era newspapers.

The next earlier column: My demons must be winning.

By Carol Perkins

When Susan Chambers and I decided to collaborate on a book about Edmonton tracing businesses in town from the time we were born until the present, which spans seven decades, we had no idea what a daunting task was ahead. My idea was to preserve the history for our children and grandchildren. "We can do this," I cheered a reluctant Susan on. She, at first, threw up her hands but then she found her groove and off she went.

Much had been written about the county and the city from the settling until the war, but what was missing were the years after that. The goal was (is) to focus on each store (or dwelling) around the square and out to the city limits and capture what was in each building for the last seventy plus years. Having been here all of our lives, how hard could this be? We soon found out.

Recreating the town requires talking to many people especially since a location might have been in the hands of eight or nine people over the years. For instance, what was once the Corner Restaurant was operated by at least ten people. If we leave anyone out, we don't want to miss any owners so we have to do our research. We have spent enough time in the local library, on the phone, facebooking with friends, and interviewing locals to write a doctorial thesis! This project has consumed me.

The library has volumes of the local paper back to the early 50s and going through each one takes me about an hour because I enjoy reading about events. Even though Susan does half and I do half, this is time-consuming. However, I have uncovered some interesting information that has nothing to do with our project.

In looking through the 1961 edition, I read the school news for my freshman class. Each of my friends and I ended up with something, but what I didn't end up with explains why I have had such a complex all my life!

I called my good friend Connie. "I now know why I have had an inferiority complex." She said, "What are you talking about?" I explained about the newspaper and reading the column with the school elections, etc. "Remember how the students in class picked three "beauties" to complete for a one page spread in the yearbook from each class?" No, she didn't.

"I didn't either until I saw that I wasn't one of them! You and Roberta (the other of the trio) were both nominated and Margaret Bartley but not me. No wonder I have suffered all my life!" She burst out laughing. "By the way, Margaret won." She said, "You are crazy!" Wonder why girls never got to nominate handsome boys for the yearbook!

To a high school girl being pretty is more important than being smart (almost). As we plow through the years ahead doing our research, I better focus on the project and not on "Who's who," or I'll need therapy.

This story was posted on 2018-04-12 12:36:50
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