You are listening to Passions & Prologues, a literary podcast where each week, I'll interview an author about a thing they love, how it inspires their work.
I'm your host Adam Sockel, and if this is your first time joining in, thanks so much for being here. If you've been here for a while, thanks for coming back.
Today's episode is a big one. It is with children's author, Cornelia Spelman, who has sold millions of copies of her exceptional books all about emotions. Things like When I Feel Good about Myself, When I Feel Jealous, When I Feel Sad, When I Feel Scared.
They are really, really important books for children to understand and process the emotions that they're going through and learning to comprehend them, perhaps for the first time. I wish I would've had these books when I was younger. I was a very emotional child, and I think these would've helped a lot.
Cornelia has a new book coming out or that has come out. It is a memoir titled Missing, and it is a beautifully written portrait of a mother and her family. She kind of looks at her own mother's life in this way that I think everyone will really understand and be able to resonate with.
The conversation that we have today, really is the core and was the jumping off point for her writing this memoir. It's all about a — not specifically a family heirloom, but a thing that was passed down from generations. And it's something that over time, acquired meaning in unexpected way for Cornelia.
And it's something I thought a lot about during this conversation because I was thinking back to in my parents' house (which I happened to be recording this episode in) — thinking back to all the things that as I would walk around the house as a kid, I would see that my parents probably didn't think anything of collecting them at the time. But when I think back at them, I remember them as like key components and core aspects of my childhood.
So, I feel like everyone has those things in your parents' houses, whether they're dolls or a menorah or a holiday decoration or a vase. Something that you don't realize is extremely important until down the line. So, I think you'll really appreciate this conversation.
Before we get to that, I want to give you a book recommendation. I just finished The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. I know a lot of people have read this since it came out. I think it has like over a million copies sold, and pretty sure it was a Jenna Book Club pick.
But I had just read it and I really enjoyed it. It wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, but it was very delightful. It's set in the mid-1950s and it follows Brothers Emmett and Billy Watson as they're planning to leave their home in Nebraska and go find their mother in California who has left them after their father died.
And they get sidetracked almost immediately and end up going basically 1,500 miles in the opposite direction to New York City. And they talk a lot about Homer's Odyssey in this, and I don't think it's based on the Odyssey, but it has a lot of similarities. And you'll understand if you haven't read it yet, when you do, what I mean.
So, it's a little bit of a coming-of-age story. It's a little bit of a on the road type adventure, heroes journey type of a story. But it follows several different peoples’ points of view and I think you'll like it. I enjoyed it. Said I was slightly different than I expected, but I really did enjoy it.
If you would like some custom book recommendations from me, you can always, always, always reach out to me at [email protected]. All you have to do is show me a rating or review of the podcast that you left wherever you listen to your podcasts.
You can also send me the things that you are passionate about. And every single month, I will do a giveaway or I will send a bookshop.org gift card to someone that happens to send me their passions.
One more quick shout out. Over the weekend, I did a macaroon baking class with my niece at a local shop. And the two people that we were paired up with, one of them happens to be the co-host of the very popular Harry Potter Podcast, Swish and Flick. So, her name is Tiffany, and she was delightful.
And if you aren't familiar with Swish and Flick, go check it out. Again, really, really popular Harry Potter Podcast. And they do a lot of cool stuff over there. And it was kind of happenstance that we happen to be at the same place at the same time and in the same group making macaroons. And we bonded over our shared love of the Harry Potter books.
Okay, that's enough housekeeping. That's enough recommendations. I am not going to have you wait around anymore. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Cornelia Spelman on Passions & Prologues.
Well, Cornelia, I am so excited to have this conversation and so thankful that you decided to join me today. So, what is the passion that you have that we're going to be discussing?
I'm thrilled to be able to talk about it because I don't know that many people who … well, I think actually, everybody's interested in it, but they don't often talk about family objects. Not so much heirlooms, as they’re sometimes quirky or very ordinary objects that are so fascinating to me.
And I think I've always been interested in them, but perhaps, I got a really big kick in the rear about it when my grandmother died. And this was not a grandmother that I knew well at all. In fact, she's mentioned in my book, Missing, her name was Corny.
When she died, we got suitcases full of objects. And when my great-aunt, Maude, died (because my mother was the only child), we got suitcases full of objects.
So, for instance, there was an evening bag of my grandmother's that still had tobacco pieces in it and a Kleenex with lipstick on it, it was like, “Wow, this is just almost like Aladdin's lamp or something that you rub it or you touch it and you're transported back into another time and place.”
So, our house is just full of these sorts of things. And of course, a lot of them, I can't get rid of. I did actually give that pocketbook away, but I gave it to my daughter, and she was completely thrilled to have it because it was her great grandmother's.
So, I'm also fascinated by these types of things. Like my mom growing up had these plates that were painted. They looked like Norman Rockwell paintings.
Yes. Oh, nice.
Yeah. And they're like reprints, they're not like the original. They'll be wonderful if they were the originals. But it's one of those things where … I think my sister has them now. And like my mom is still alive and well, like literally, I told you I'm recording from their house right now.
But it's one of those things where I saw it on my childhood and like I kind of never thought twice about it. But then now, that they're not there, I'm like, “Oh, that was this thing that was like, there's probably a story behind there.”
So, one of the things — if you've read the whole memoir that we're going to get into a little bit, but there is a very specific kind of keepsake that you have that sort of sparked your interest, right?
Yes. Right. You're talking about my grandfather's nameplate, his brass nameplate. And my mother kept it. And I knew it was very precious to her, I knew that her father — whose name was Samuel Andrew Schneider, and the nameplate says S.A. Schneider in brass.
I knew that she kept it because he meant a lot to her. I knew that he had died when she was a child, but really, I didn't know any details at all. And I didn't even know how old she was when he died. Now, maybe she told me and I was too young to be interested.
But that sat on my desk for the longest time until I suddenly thought that I'm going to find out the whole story. It was part of my finding out the whole story about what happened to my mother in her life to cause her to end in such a sad way, but also, to find the whole story.
And I was able to find the whole story of his death. And I traveled to Iowa, I found the bank where it had sat on his desk and went to newspaper archives and found his grave. And he meant a lot to me. And you might ask, how could he mean a lot to me since he died in 1918?
So, I'd love to kind of expand on that. But first, how do you go about starting that journey. Again, before I started recording, I told you this is something I'm also really, really interested in. Like I really only know my family through my grandparents. And then like beyond there, all of my grandparents passed away when I was pretty young.
So, there just wasn't a lot of — really neither side of the family has like a family historian I guess, that I'm very close to that would be able to kind of trace things further back from that.
So, when you're looking at this nameplate, what is the kind of, I guess, like investigative journalism that you started doing to figure out who this person was?
Well, when I started it, Adam, the internet was not really active at all. So, I had to do it from scratch, I couldn't just Google it. But for instance, I knew (well, I'm not sure how I found out that) where he died. I think I must have gone to Iowa first.
I mean, my husband and I took two trips and then I took another one to Iowa because I wanted to see the places because the houses and I had scrapbooks and stuff from my family. So, that was my evidence of some of it. So, I knew the addresses, the cities and the … not cities, the little towns in Iowa where they'd lived.
And so, we traveled to see them and while I was there, I went into the newspaper archives and I found on the front page of the Mason City Globe Gazette in 1918, the story of my grandfather's death.
So, once I knew when he had died and that he had died in Chicago, of all things, which is where I live, I went to the vital records office in downtown Chicago. Oh, that was such a moment. And I filled out a form for his name and the date of his death, and I sat down and waited. It was like the driver's license office. It was just a big, loud, crazy office.
And I sat there with my heart beating a million times a minute and waited, and they called my name, and handed me his death certificate. And so, on that was even more information. And every bit of information you get leads you to find more information.
And if you like to detective stories, which I do, and I think everybody likes treasure hunts, that's really what it is. Writing a memoir about your family is like a treasure hunt.
So, what made you want to go down this memoir path now? So, I know people listening in will almost certainly recognize your name. Like you've literally sold millions of children's books and you have this wonderful way of writing so that children can feel like they're seen, and they're understood.
That's nice of you to say, thank you.
Absolutely. And your books have meant lot to me as a person who my entire life I've been a very emotional person. These books are things that I relate to even now in my mid-30s.
But I'm wondering what made you want to go from writing these again, like very successful books for children to saying, “Okay, I do want to tackle this?” Because this is clearly something that you've been passionate about for a really long time now.
Yeah. Well, really, Adam, some of it had to do with life stages. So, the year that I turned 50, my daughter left for college, and I wasn't actively working as a therapist anymore. And so, I bought two used filing cabinets, and I started organizing all the family papers because like you, I'd always been interested in all this stuff.
So, I had letters and papers and birth certificates and photographs and everything. And so, I organized them, and I just was happy as a lark working on this project to organize it.
But then also, less happy was my wish to figure out what happened to my mother. So, in the pictures that I have of her, she was a very pretty … well, not pretty, interesting looking person. A very vital, very vivid kind of person. And she was healthy and strong and smart.
And yet, when I knew her, that is to say the last 10 years of her life, from the time I was about 10 or 12, I guess, she was ill. And she was a very, very heavy smoker. She smoked in the morning from the time she got up till the time she went to bed.
And she had a bad cough all the time I was growing up. I remember being in a school play and I knew she was in the audience because I could hear her cough from behind stage. And then she got emphysema, a lung disease, and she never quit smoking, and she smoked herself to death. And she died at the age of only 63 from lung disease.
And she was depressed and there were a lot of problems in her family with my oldest brother. And I thought, “What happened? What happened to her?” And because I had worked as a therapist and because I understood child development by then, much better than I would have I think otherwise. And because I'd been a mother, I began to understand that it was probably the impact of her father's sudden death. And so, I wanted to start there and figure that out.
And I believe I did. I mean, you could argue, “Well, how could you possibly prove that his death was the cause of her problems?” Well, it wasn't the only cause. But when children have a traumatic loss, as she did, of this completely unexpected death of a parent who probably was the more loving parent — because her mother was quite cold and remote and judgmental. And my mother was an only child.
So, I think in a way, all my children's books that you mentioned are intended to prevent the kinds of problems with children having losses and never being able to talk about them or never being able to talk about their feelings. And my mother smoked instead of feeling. That's how I understand it.
It’s pretty close to home. When I was growing up, I had a really close friend and he and I were present when his father unexpectedly had a stroke and passed away. And I think we were 11, maybe 10-years-old at the time.
And we went to, what I now know of, was therapy. But for us, it was just like we thought we were going to almost like a day camp or something where we would kind of talk about feelings and draw and things like that. But only went for a little while. I mean, our parents did the absolute best for us. And like I'm really proud of how I turned out.
My friend, he has had like some issues in life. And I know a lot of it stems from, whether it's pent-up anger or pent up frustration, whatever it might be. But like I think you're right. Like I do think, while maybe you this many years out can't officially diagnose, that's what happened to your mother.
But I would imagine with the experience that you have in your entire career, like these things are really how people cope. Like whether it is smoking or alcohol or some people turn to art, whatever it might be. Like there is a void there that you have to try and fill, I would imagine.
Well, turning to art, of course would be a healthy adaptation. And addiction is not just mental, for most people, it's also physical. People are born with the tendency to alcoholism, or they can get a physical dependence on it or other drugs.
But if there's someone in our lives that we can talk to, honestly, and that will be with us no matter how we feel that whatever we have to say, they'll take it, we'll be okay. That I strongly believe.
I mean, well, the only exception would be some mental illnesses that are again, physically-based. And so, just talking with somebody might not be enough for them or depression where people often would need medication too. But the talking and listening is in my experience in life, the key to healthy life.
Yeah. I mean, I will say I'm a massive proponent of therapy. I've been going to therapy basically weekly for the last like eight months or so.
And it has helped me so much, not only in the ability to speak with someone about what's going on in my life and how it's affecting me and learning to better understand that the things that I do don't cause other people to feel a certain way. Like it's actions and reactions and all these different things.
But more specifically, it's helped me I think better communicate with my family. Like I can kind of understand where they're coming from and things a lot better. And that I can understand when I'm saying something and if they're getting frustrated, I can better understand why.
See, I fully agree with you about how important it's just to be able to talk to someone about certain things. And I guess, I'm curious to kind of connect that to Missing, to like pull it, connect it to the memoir you're writing.
Without having people to talk to who were around in these situations. Like how did you get that depth and color around the story? Was it really just finding more and more articles and letters and things like that? Or were there ways that you kind of, I guess, like coped with learning all of these things while you were going?
I'm not sure I understand your question. Maybe you could rephrase it.
Yeah. So, while you were writing this memoir, or I guess researching this memoir, I am assuming that there weren't really many people for you to be able to talk to about their experiences with your mother or your grandpa who, like you said, had passed away in the early 1900s.
So, how were you going about creating, like writing down the story? Was it really just the different pieces of information you were able to find or were there ways that you were able to kind of flesh out the story even further?
Well, it took me a very long time, many, many years to write it because it was such a psychological and emotional journey. Not only finding out the information, but processing it. I mean, for instance, when I started off, I couldn't remember until I got my mother's death certificate, the exact date of her death. I wasn't even sure of the exact year.
Because it had been so upsetting and I had had difficulties in my own life after that and was a single mother. And there was so much to deal with that it wasn't until I turned 50 really, that I could turn around and look back and try to make sense of a lot of things that happened.
But I did have my husband of 41 years, he was certainly a great help to talk to. And I do remember one occasion when I came to him crying and sat on his lap and cried again about all the sad things that had happened in my family. And he said, “I really hope Cornelia that this book will exorcise them for you.”
And it did in many ways because I think making sense of things that seem chaotic is a really important coping strategy. And for me, the filing cabinets … filing cabinets, I just think are one of the greatest inventions in the world because you can keep everything straight. And so, being able to organize … I'm sure it's a question of gaining control. By organizing and researching and writing, you're gaining control over a situation that you had no control over.
And then also, certainly I've been to therapy myself. Most good therapists I certainly hope have been to therapy themselves. But good friends or loving spouse or partner are awfully important.
So, we talked about the fact that this whole journey of the book really started with this nameplate. And I'm curious, I remember when my grandmother on my dad's side of the family passed away. She had had dementia for a lot of my life, so I never really got to know her.
When she passed away, my aunt said, “Hey, Adam, grandma had all these old books and I know that you're a very literary person. Would you like to kind of look through them?” I Said, “Absolutely.”
And so, I always have loved Russian literature. Even like when I was in high school, it made no sense why I was reading like The Brothers Karamazov at 16. But I really always loved those books.
And I was able to look through my grandmother's books and I discovered she had all of these old Russian novels and they were like copies she bought from the library, so it wasn't like they were worth anything. But they were worth lots of me because I was like, “Oh my gosh, my grandmother was reading the plays of Ibsen or stories by Tolstoy.”
And so, to me, like those … I still have those. Again, they're just really worthless tater versions, but to me, they mean a lot. So, while you were kind of going through and organizing all of these things, in addition to the nameplate, like were there other, you can call them heirlooms or keepsakes that you discovered that are really sentimental to you now?
Oh, many. But I wanted to say about your story that it's such a good example, Adam, of how by reading the books that your grandmother read and that were important to her, it was a way to get to know her. Because you could see what she was interested in and you're literally reading the words that she was reading. So, I can really understand how that makes sense.
And I have in fact some prayer books of both my mother and grandmother, and there would be bookmarks in them. And so, I was so curious, “Why did they bookmark this? I wonder why they bookmarked that.”
But oh, I have so many keepsakes photographs, a lot of photographs. And I remember even as a child, I was the one who would collect them and write in pencil on the back when they were and ask my father about them. I remember doing that from a very young age.
I have pieces of silverware, like I have a spoon that belonged to my grandmother, Corny. And it's just a beautifully made old silver spoon and it says her name on it. And in those days, among some people, they would make silver spoons as kind of like a graduation president or as some other birthday present. And I do have a lot of old books, also some of when I was a child that are precious to me.
But my mother's possessions though ... it's funny the things that can have meaning. I kept her eyeglasses for a long time and that was kind of creepy really, because the idea of glasses with sightless eyes, the persons dead, it kind of freaked me out. And I eventually got rid of them. But I had kept them because I was with her when she died.
And a more pleasant kind of heirloom was an old bracelet that she had, and it was just costume jewelry. But I can remember her saying, “Oh, I love this. Look at this beautiful color.” It was a kind of green fake stone. And my daughter played with that bracelet and my granddaughter played with that bracelet.
So, even though it's not something that's valuable monetarily, it's something that conveys some sense of the person.
But really, the whole house is filled with objects which have meaning either to my family or to me, including old furniture. And I thought recently, “Well, our house looks like an old person's house.” And I thought, “Well, yeah. Because we are, we're old, and our furniture's old, and our life happened in a different time.”
And I have my great-grandmother's table and on the bottom of the drawer, there's written the name “Ferguson” in pencil because that was one of the family names. Somebody from way back wrote that in there. I love that stuff.
I love that so much. The one that I have is my grandpa was in the Navy and I have his like sailor's hat and like-
And it's so interesting to me just because it's so small, like it doesn't fit my dad's head, it doesn't fit mine. And so, to me, like it's that ability to understand the size of-
Oh, that's a really good example. Yeah.
Yeah. It's like I never met this man. He passed before I was born, but like I can picture what he looked like and everything because of the size of this hat.
Yes. Yeah, that's great.
So, I'd love to ask, like once you have collected all of the information, I always like to ask the people who’ve written non-fiction when they know it's time to start writing and stop researching. For you, was it something that you were writing along the way? Or was there a moment where you said like, “Okay, I have as much of a story as I can possibly have?”
Oh, there were many, many moments. I mean, for me, it was gathering the information and going off in a lot of different directions. And I think the biggest challenge in writing the book was that I had so much material and which story would I tell.
Like I had one friend who said, “Oh, I would've written a whole book about your brother.” And I said, “No, that was not what I was interested in. I was interested in the stories about my mother.”
And I think for me, it was a process of gathering and writing, gathering and writing, gathering and writing. And then also, for any piece of writing, trying to really hone in on exactly what is your preoccupation here? What's going on here? What are almost, the jewels that you're putting together?
And I use a thesaurus often because words will help me so much. Like I had a whole sheet of different words related to the word “missing.” What was missing, what was recovered, recuperation, rehabilitation, healing, empty — all different kinds of words all the way around.
That's how I eventually ended up with the title “Missing.” Because one of the earlier titles had been “The Faint Sound of a Human Heart.”
That had come from a newspaper article about an earthquake in Mexico City and how the rescue dogs listened for the faint sound of a human heart. I thought that was such a touching image and I thought that's what I was doing in writing this book. I was listening to understand my mother's heart.
How do you feel now, having written it and having it out in the world?
I'm so happy to be able to talk about it because it's obviously, not a book that's like just a fictional book about a story that's not related to me. Although of course, I'm sure everybody's fiction is in one way or another related to them.
But I would say I feel finished with her particular story, but I'm not finished with all the things around it. And in fact, I'm writing another memoir now, which is definitely related to it. And that's been really fascinating for me. I'm very glad I didn't get rid of those files because I have so many filing cabinets, Adam. I got two more. I have four filing cabinets.
Well, I will say, so people won't be able to see this, but right behind you, there is a filing cabinet. And I mentioned I'm at my parents' house right now. I'm going to turn my camera over a little bit. There's literally a filing cabinet right-
And a red one.
Yeah, so, it's orange.
Orange. I like it. See, oh, here's a little tiny one over my head.
Yeah. My father owns it. Before he retired, he was a state farm insurance agent and before everything got digitized, he had … oh my gosh. Thinking back to his office. I bet there were 20 of these in there at least. And so, I think he eventually sold-
I have too many.
I think he eventually sold most of them. But it is funny, I'm sitting in his kind of office and he still uses it. You're absolutely right. It's super helpful for him.
I'm also curious, and this might be a weird question or a very quick answer. Writing these memoirs, does it feel in any way like writing the children's books that you've written in the past? Or does it feel just like a wholly different experience for you?
It's not wholly different. I think it's definitely related. I'm not sure I understood when I began writing the children's books, because the first one was 1996, I think, 1998. I'm not sure I understood when I began, of course I didn't know that I was going to do a whole series at that point.
But I realized that I was writing them for my mother in some ways. I was writing them for the children that I had worked with in therapy. I could see a very plain need. And I was well aware that as a child I could have used them, any child could use knowing more about emotions and how to deal with them.
But then I saw, “Oh, I see. It's so related because, again, the jewels that one thinks about or that one writes about or that are one's themes are the same in the children's books as they are in the memoir.” That is how talking and listening help.
Every single one of those books tells a child, talk to somebody or be close to somebody. And this is how we manage feelings. We have a feeling in our body, we tell somebody, and we get comfort and direction and then we know how to manage it. So, it's really all about peace.
That's such an interesting way to think about it. Because I think it sounds like, at least having this conversation with you, that you do — you said you feel like you've kind of told this part of the story. And you do sound like you're very much at peace. Which I imagine having spent so much time working on a memoir, I would imagine, you would have to feel at peace having put it out in the world.
But does it feel … and again, maybe this is a quick answer because the fact that you're working on a second memoir. But I've had a lot of people tell me when they spend a lot of time writing a book and then they put it out in the world, it's almost like they've lost a part of themselves because that thing is no longer theirs.
Was there that feeling of like loss putting this out into the world? Or was it because you have another one you want to work on and another story you want to tell? Or it was mainly just like, “Okay, I'm at peace with this and it's time to move on”?
I understand that feeling of loss because it is such a part of you for somebody who's written a book. But it feels like a gain to me rather than a loss because it gives me the opportunity to connect to more people like with you today. We can talk about things that aren't necessarily about the book, but that are about the book because the book is about life and how people relate to each other.
I was aware, and in one of the last chapters when I took my mother's diaries … and I forgot to mention those by the way, in terms of heirlooms, oh my goodness.
I was going to ask you about those, yeah.
The three diaries from when she was a little girl and then a teenager. But when I took them to the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, which is where they live in perpetuity, and anybody can go and see them. And I left them there, then I felt very sad.
I remember turning at the door and looking back at the little pile of her things that I'd brought. And then when I went outside, I cried because I felt that I had really left her behind, even though by then she'd been dead for probably 20 years already, maybe more.
And speaking of her diaries, was that something that she passed on to you because-
No, not … I don't even remember where we found them. The household was moved after she died. I had two sisters and they got some, and I got some stuff and a brother who got some stuff.
But I don't think that anyone had looked at them except me. Because again, I was interested. I mean, I have one sister who certainly would have, maybe both sisters would have. But when I found them, I was just so thrilled.
But Adam, when I was younger too, younger people aren't always interested. I get that. They're in the middle of living their lives and they don't necessarily care about their mother's diary or their mother's life, or their grandmother's life. It takes a certain amount of years for one to get interested because it doesn't seem real to you when you're young.
You think well, they didn't … it's so irrelevant in some ways that you had grandparents and that your grandparents were young people or even children. So, it's really a treasure. You just don't ever throw anything away.
Yeah. No, but I do, I know exactly what you mean because I feel like, especially over the last like five, 10-ish years, I have felt that way. Like my parents, they've gotten really good at like not emptying their house, but like-
Clearing out. Yeah.
Just basically because they didn't want, God forbid something were to happen. They're like, “We don't want to leave you guys with just this pile of stuff.”
Sure, yeah, it’s understandable.
Which is in reality, I'm the youngest of four siblings and I wouldn't say all of us are pack rats, but I would say we would definitely, there are lots of things. And I'd be like, “Oh yeah, I would absolutely take that from you, mom. Like don't get rid of that for sure.”
But I'm just laughing thinking about my mom hearing this, us saying, “Don't ever throw anything away.” And then she's like, “I just don't want any of this clutter. Let's just get rid of all of it.”
Yeah, one gets tired of the clutter, but it turns out that some of that clutter is absolutely gold. And an archivist at the library in Iowa said to me, “Well, Cornelia, do you have like letters between your grandparents? They must have written a lot of letters.”
And I hadn't thought about that. I didn't have them. And I thought, “Darn, where did they go? Did my grandmother throw them out? Did my mother throw them out at some point saying, ‘Whoever wants …’” Because think of the written record that people before us left behind, if only we could get there. All the letters that must have been written back and forth.
Yeah. So, speaking of that, on your website, it mentions that you have like over 250 of your own like diaries. Do you still have all of those as well?
No, they're at the library. They're at the Schlesinger Library, which to my delight, wanted them. Now, my diaries are closed and not open to anybody to read until the year 2070. My mothers are open, and all of her papers are open.
But I write them and send them off to the library after I get a few together. So, I'm actually on volume 252.
Incredible. That is amazing.
But, Adam, before I found that the library wanted them, which was of course, the most thrilling thing that's ever happened to me, I think, was for them to want them. I kept them in my filing cabinet.
But I would get worried because I wanted to be able to write whatever I wanted and not hurt anybody's feelings. And what if I dropped dead and I had written something that I could never explain to somebody.
So, I urge anybody to keep a diary because it's such a helpful thing to do. But make sure you have a lock and key. Or decide, do you want somebody to see this or don't you? If you can skip a generation, probably anybody could write anything.
252, wow. That is incredible. That is so amazing. Okay. So, the last question for you, I always ask people who come on to end the show with a recommendation. It could be a book that you love, it could be a recipe, it could be a movie that you've recently seen. Just something that you'd like to recommend that people enjoy after they listen to this conversation.
Well, I don't know if there are any people who love fountain pens out there.
My first guest, Mallory O'Meara, she's a good friend of mine. She loves a fountain pen, so this will be very applicable for her.
I think fountain pens are one of the great pleasures of life. And you can get catalogs from pen stores. There's a kind of whole world I'm not part of because I don't collect things, I use them. But you can get these catalogs from the pen stores and look at pictures of pens and look at all the different kinds of inks.
And I have to add that my grandmother, Corny, was a teacher of handwriting in the Mason City, Iowa public schools. And she had beautiful handwriting, and my mother had beautiful handwriting. And my husband tells me my handwriting is beautiful, although it's a little not as good as it used to be.
But my daughter writes by hand. My granddaughter, who knows if she'll even write cursive. I don't think they even necessarily teach it in schools anymore.
Yeah. So, I'm going to make an addendum to the last question. Is there like a specific fountain pen that you do like? Or is it just like-
Yes. Pelican. A Pelican fountain pen is absolutely the best fountain pen I've ever used. Now, maybe there are more that are more expensive though, it's not cheap. It always writes, it always flows beautifully. And it's a pleasure to hold in your hand.
That's absolutely perfect. Cornelia, I feel like I could talk with you for hours and hours.
I do too. It was fun.
I enjoyed this so much. Thank you so much for joining me today.
Thank you so much.
Passions & Prologues is proud to be an Evergreen Podcasts and was created by Adam Sockel. It was produced by Adam Sockel and Sean Rule-Hoffman.
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