Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

[friday]

May 2, 2014

Everyone has a story

I’ve finally figured out what my grandma has known for years: Everyone has a story to tell, even the ones who claim to be boring.

I’ve told you before that my grandmother is a writer. What I haven’t told you is that she was also a reporter once, too. She had no formal training for the job, but she had her own column in our church’s bulletin called “Up Close and Personal.”

She’d interview church members and write a compelling story about their lives – similar to what I sometimes do in my column now. Let’s be honest, though, I still have a lot to learn from her. It seems she had a knack for getting people to open up and share little golden nuggets about their lives, details that captivated the people who picked up the bulletin each month.

I came across one of these columns recently. It was a brilliant piece about an ordinary man in the church parish who was once a train-hopping hobo. I’m sharing part of the story with you today, readers, because it was just too good to pass up.

“I had the good fortune recently to listen to Ray Breivogel’s story unfold into a beautiful story of life,” Grandma wrote. “Ray loves to tell stories. His memory is sharper than most people’s, especially mine. I hope I can remember his story long enough to put down his adventures that make the life of Huckleberry Finn’s seem dull.”

Ray grew up in a family of 12 children. When he graduated from eighth-grade, he pretty much fended for himself. By 1928, the Depression was just around the corner and there were no jobs. So Ray and his friend hitched a ride on a train to Kansas City hoping to find work at harvest time.

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