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  • Rue the day your grandmother says ‘Google it’

    I love to share a good story. I guess that’s why I became a journalist. My story-telling, often done while standing in the newsroom, is a bit, well … legendary.

    There are the stories of past Catholic Herald personalities, behind-the-scene details of stories we’ve covered, and brushes with nature in my backyard between the koi in our pond and the racoon family that moved in this past winter.

    My mom was a story-teller and a really great one. She regaled us with stories of her Coast Guard days as a SPAR during WWII in New York City or of growing up in Georgetown in the 1930s-’40s. Her eyes would twinkle a little and she might get a far-off look as she almost relived those moments. I could not get enough of her stories.

    She described Uncle Jim, who drove the horse-drawn ice wagon delivering blocks of ice to people’s ice boxes on their back porches, and how he would chip off pieces of ice as a treat for the kids. Or how she never missed an opening day of the Washington Senators baseball team. Or how families in Georgetown would move to cabins on the banks of the Potomac River during the summer because the tightly woven brick townhomes were just too hot.

    I started wondering if the ability to tell a story, with all its colorful anecdotes or emotion-filled twists and turns, or the ability to listen to a story, is being lost because of — Google. If you want to know how ice blocks were delivered to homes in the 1930s, you could Google it. 

    What comes up?

    Washington, D.C., history, facts, character and attractions from Britannica.com … “change the melted snow to ice.”

    Or 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ice Cream in Washington.

    Or Georgetown Late Night Delivery.

    Not exactly the story we’re looking for.

    I couldn’t live without Google, it’s a journalist’s best friend. Ask anything and it will take you far and wide, maybe not the answer to your original question, but who knows what you might learn.

    That said, I think I would miss the narrative and the personal connection of hearing a story. I want to see that twinkle and brief far-off look. Personally, I rue the day grandma tells me to Google it.

    Next time you’re curious about something, and you’re not on deadline, ask someone and see where that leads.


    © Arlington Catholic Herald 2021

    @Ann M. Augherton