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Roseville grandpa pens book on sharing life lessons

Shows seniors how to organize memories, teach younger generation
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Roseville author William Gould thinks grandparents have life lessons to teach younger generations - although this audience might not always want to listen.

His book, "Grandpa, Were You Young Once?," released in late May, shows how memories can be organized and used to share lessons and bond a family together.

"We learned it all the hard way. Why make anyone else go through it the hard way?" said Gould, 78.

Tell me about how you came up with the idea for the book.

(In seminars I taught for seniors on using the Internet, I asked), 'How do you tell your kids your story?' The average senior has almost 10,000 photos hidden somewhere in the house, in shoeboxes and old boxes. And they just sit there. How do you use those to tell the story of your life?

What the book basically does is organize memories. I chose 26 topics that people reacted to the most and I told stories I had or could embellish on, and then I would leave (space) where they could add their own notes. Hopefully, they'd then pass that on to their grandkids.

What was it like for you to share your own stories?

It made me think about a lot of things I hadn't thought about for a while to tell you the truth. Stuff comes back you haven't thought about in 50 years.

One topic that gets reaction is about being in the service, but not about the military-action side but about the fun memories. In the book, it's all treated as fun. But in the seminars ... one of the guys had been a pilot during World War II. He was firing spitfires against the Germans and after that they transferred him to Burma ... so he's flying against China and Japan.

I asked him, 'Have you ever written any of this down?' He said, 'Nobody cares." Well, it turned out the room cared. He realized people were interested in the heroics of his life. People always say, 'Well, I don't have anything to tell.'

It's an important thing to make (seniors) feel good. You get up in age and it's tough enough to feel like it was all worthwhile.

Do you feel like younger generations don't value the lessons seniors have to impart?

Most of your children don't know who you are. They know who they lived with, but they don't know how you ever got there. They don't know what you went through. A lot of people won't talk about it. A lot of kids don't want to listen. Much of society has changed, but a lot basic things don't change. Every generation wants to think they changed.

What do you consider the most important topics in this book?

I skip a couple things in the book. I have no politics, religion, violence (or) sex. So it'll never be a great seller.

One of the questions I ask is what are your favorite TV programs? If you talk about radio vs. TV, (with) radio, you have to use your own imagination. You cast your own characters. So I talk about that difference. What that chapter does is gets an older person to think about their childhood and growing up with programs that shaped their life.

I ask about being green. It turns out most of our generation started out green because we couldn't afford not to be. But that changed over time.

The other one I'd put right up there is music because that reflects the culture and people's feelings.

Was there a topic that brought up the most interesting memory for you?

The memory of how my wife and I met. The underlying point of that chapter is that most people's lives are determined quite a bit by serendipity.

People, especially seniors, will talk about being a self-made man. Well, that's not really true. I don't care what age you are. There's going to be luck, as well as skill and other things. I try to get that through so that if it didn't work out, it's also serendipity. You're just as good as the next guy but you weren't in the right place at the right time.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.

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The book "Grandpa, Were You Young Once?" by William Gould can be purchased at Barnes & Noble, on Amazon and on Kindle.