Stories bring people to life, even the dead. They paint an indelible history. It's commendable to have an orderly and complete genealogy. It is the official family record, but it's only the bare bones. Stories put flesh on these people. "The Smell of the Soil" is both a montage of my stories (including a revealing account of why I danced naked in front of my mother) and an earnest plea that you write your family stories. My sincere hope is that my stories will jog memories of your stories. "Stories are for joining the past to the future," says author Tim O'Brien. "Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.” That is a defining tribute to stories. It is compelling testimony why you should write yours. What could be more precious to preserve than the stories that comprise your family's life? What greater gift could you give to your family than a book of family stories? That's what I request, implore: that you write stories of zany Uncle Louie, sedate Aunt Daphne, cool cousin Corrine, those precocious grandchildren and all the characters in your life. You be the author. You can do it. I believe this book will help. – Dale Kueter
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