I have a story I want to tell you.
Years ago, a man named John was digging through a dumpster, and found an old scrapbook. This scrapbook was a complete and detailed record of the life of a young woman who lived in the early 1900s, told through a stunning collection of ephemera. Pages on pages of photos, newspaper articles, letters, and poetry told the story of this brief, beautiful life; it was the type of document a mother might keep for a daughter she’s lost. John was touched by this volume, and took it with him. How could he, having rescued the story of this person’s entire life, a story likely long forgotten by any other living soul, simply throw it back in the dumpster?
John carried the scrapbook around with him for many years, occasionally showing it to acquaintances in the way you’d introduce an old friend who was in from out of town: “I have someone I’d like you to meet.” However, the burden of carrying this extra life with him eventually became too much, and he decided to throw a party at to celebrate the life of this young woman, who had died 100 years prior. He digitized the scrapbook, and at the party, he invited guests to take one of the original photos or newspaper clippings with them, exploding the book and the story it contained out into the lives of a hundred other people, a hundred years on, to become part of a hundred other stories.
A few weekends ago, I saw a wonderful show. Jason Webley, a musician and storyteller, came out to play us some music and tell us some stories. Jason is from a town in Washington called Everett outside Seattle, the kind of place that nobody immediately admits to being from, preferring instead to claim Seattle roots. Near this town, tucked away in a stand of trees, there is a giant stone step pyramid made of black granite. It’s the type of place where teenagers go to drink beer, a strange and iconic structure, so strange and relatively ancient as to become part of the background noise of youth. Perhaps the only clue to the provenance of this artifact is the name RUCKER carved in foot-high letters across the top tier of the pyramid.
John and Jason met by chance sometime around when this scrapbook party happened, and became friends. In the course of idle conversation while walking together one day, it came up that Jason was from Everett. And John stopped dead in his tracks.
“I have something to show you.”
John showed Jason the digital scrapbook - the record of this young woman’s life - all of which had transpired in the tiny town of Everett. And sure enough, that young woman’s name was Margaret Rucker. The last page of the scrapbook was an obituary, which described her final resting place as the Rucker family mausoleum, the very pyramid which Jason had hung around as a teen.
A few weeks ago, on an otherwise ordinary Saturday night, many more people became a part of this story. Jason played for us a song he had written, with the lyrics originally penned by Margaret Rucker over 100 years ago, a poem recovered by John from the bottom of a garbage bin. And it was absolutely stunning.
I hesitate to even include this, because I don’t want to detract from the story itself, but I just found out that the scrapbook is being printed in physical form and an album has been recorded including the song Jason played for us that Saturday night. For another few weeks you can preorder that album and book here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/562632750/margaret-by-jason-webley-and-friends