(re)Writing History

05 May, 2011

by Stacie Williams

~
“No single man makes history. History cannot be seen,
just as one cannot see grass growing.”
~

Iced Tea and Writing

Iced Tea and Writing

When I told a writer friend of mine about this unique position, she launched into an interesting bit of historical trivia she had learned while living in Russia.  In the old hotels there, during the Soviet era, one would often find a little old lady sitting in the lobby, taking notes on all the comings and goings.  Essentially, she was hired by the government as a spy.  Now, here I am, decades later, chosen to sit in the lobby of an old hotel and take notes on the comings and goings, here to make conversation with strangers and write about them.  Except, this time, it’s with complete transparency and artistic license.  The purpose is not to affect history, but to record histories: personal histories as they occur in the here and now.

When Julie Ferris, the outgoing and first-ever Narrator, and I got together this week to “pass the pen,” we sat in the lobby bar, surrounded by history.  The marble tiles that are inlaid in front of the grand fireplace were reassembled there during the hotel’s restoration, pieced together from the original 1893 floors.  The fireplace itself was one of the first indoor gas fireplaces in the country; a grand beast of a thing whose opening is flanked by two cherubs and inset with a scene from Ancient Rome of a woman driving a chariot drawn by four prancing horses.  Surrounded by all this, Julie noted the Pfister’s desire to continue its preservation of history, bringing home the point: Even as we are present, we are already passing into history.

Certainly, the Pfister Hotel stands as a historic landmark, and I intend to unearth many of its stories and share them here with you over the next six months.  However, the fact that the hotel has stood here for enough years (118) to have earned its elite status means that histories have been written here for quite a long time.  A few years ago, as part of an anniversary celebration, the Pfister began a program to find and preserve some of those personal histories.  ‘Memories and Moments‘ is a place where you can share your own stories and memories, particularly since there was no Pfister Narrator hanging around the lobby to write it for you.  Or you can drop me a line here and I can help you tell your story.

At the same time as some of you are reflecting and remembering, new stories are being written with each footstep tread upon the old marble floors, up the wide staircase, past the Victorian paintings, next to stone walls – and I will be here to find them, write them, and share them.

Whether you are sharing an experience that happened long ago, or only yesterday, though you may not see it, you are making history.

Quote source: Boris Pasternak, author of Doctor Zhivago

About the author

Stacie Williams

With a love of stories and storytelling, Stacie Williams has worked at a local Milwaukee bookstore for six years, and has experience in travel writing and blogging. In 1998, she moved from California to study theater at University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, and stayed.

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