Volume IV, No. 1, Fall 1976



From the very beginning it seems that Bittersweet has made things happen, though that wasn't particularily what our purpose was. We wanted to be where things were happening to record them and learn about them, and we wanted to visit with people who remembered how things used to happen to learn about that, too. We had the conception That as unfledged cultural journalists we could passively look on with cameras, listen with tape recorders and then capture it all on our typewriters.

But that is hardly what happened. Instead of merely observing, we found ourselves right in the middle of the happenings, experiencing them, and many times causing them to happen. While "passively" watching Elvie Hough swing his grain cradle, i suddenly found my arms full of oat grain to tie, and Steve had the cradle in his hands facing a long row of uncut grain.

A casual question, "Do you know anyone who still makes sorghum molasses?" got the answer, "No, but if you will do the work, we'll show you how." We agreed and got shown the best way there is--by doing.

Charlie McMicken had retired from calling square dances, but urged on by our interest, he decided, "I guess i got one more dance in me." This led to a series of dances lasting all winter and spring involving not only us, but many of our friends and Charlie Mc's neighbors.

"Would you like to learn how to make blackberry wine?" Lyn Marble asked. Of course. "Then pick the berries and I'll show you how." That triggered an interest in the many other uses of blackberries involving many hours in several kitchens.

If we just mention a natural science subject we're slightly interested in to George Kastler, everything happens. We explore dozens of caves, join scientists from colleges and park services in Missouri and Arkansas on field trips and find ourselves floating rivers and studying Indian sites.

Our story of an old stagecoach way station caused the local historical society to take steps to preserve it. Stories we write re-awaken memories in our older friends who happily exchange their memories. Some even write down their memories and share with us new subjects to research.

Our experience has inspired other groups to do something similar for their areas. To help them we've been asked to give talks and conduct workshops all over Missouri and in several neighboring states.

Things are happening to us personally because of Bittersweet. Several of our staff members have found new hobbies and recreation activities--weaving, making quilts and baskets and enjoying our rivers and caves. Some graduates are using what they've learned to help choose professions in art, photography, journalism and business.

I could expand this list of happenings indefinitely, but the greatest thing that has happened is that for the thirteenth time the tens of thousands of words, the thousands of miles, many hundreds of hours, hundreds of photographs, scores of mistakes and dozens of drawings of twenty-two young people have become once again the latest issue of Bittersweet. And we intend for this to keep on happening.

Ellen Massey


Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.

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