I’m beginning to think about my college years, 1966-1970, since that’s where my memoir Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World ends and where a second volume could begin.

So I was very interested in the new memoir just about Denis R. O’Neill’s senior year of college at Dartmouth: WHIPLASH: When the Vietnam War rolled a hand grenade into the Animal House.

The telling of personal stories either in fiction or memoir transforms into a much deeper experience when others add stories to the author’s. Recently I heard Denis R. O’Neill , author of the book Whiplash, being interviewed on the Here and Now program on NPR. He is collecting stories of memories of December 1, 1969, the night of the Vietnam War draft lottery. He and I are exactly the same age. We’ve had quite different lives.

This is the second book I’ve come across that asks for your story. I think we may have spotted a trend!

If you have a story, here’s another chance to get published. And here’s also a chance to tell me whether you are interested in hearing more about 1966-1970, those war years, at Eastern Mennonite College.

Shirley Showalter


  1. Tina Fariss Barbour on December 1, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    I like this trend!

    I was a child in 1969. My husband is older than me, and I’m going to ask him about this because he certainly remembers the draft.

    I would be very interested in hearing about your college years, and I hope a “next book” is in the works–or at least the thoughts. 🙂

    • shirleyhs on December 2, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Thanks for the feedback, Tina. Maybe your husband will want to add his story to the collection.

      And thanks for the encouragement, too. We’ll see what 2014 brings.

      Keep telling YOUR stories. They encourage many.

  2. Becky Povich on December 2, 2013 at 1:00 am

    I love the idea, too. I graduated from high school in 1971, and I very much remember Vietnam and the draft lottery…very scary times for young men (and their mothers and girl friends, and sisters, etc.)

    • shirleyhs on December 2, 2013 at 11:14 am

      Thanks, Becky. The girlfriends, sisters, mothers and other women connected to the men in the lottery suffered along with them. Their stories are powerful too. Thanks for adding your voice to this conversation!

  3. Jerry Waxler on December 2, 2013 at 5:42 am

    Thanks for the tip about collections becoming a trend. I’m seeing the same thing. In fact, I’m posting a review today of a collection of stories about the sixties. Yay! The sixties were such a powerful time to be alive, but when we tried to tell the stories verbally, people rolled their eyes and tuned out. Now, returning to the sixties in memoirs is going to be fascinating. All that story power unleashed!!! Back then we had “hips” and “straights” – long hair, short hair. Radical, conservative. Your parent’s music or the new music. It goes on and on. I think one of the most powerful stories waiting to be told is “recovering from the sixties” – a long slow story many of us are still living.

    Memory Writers Network

    • shirleyhs on December 2, 2013 at 11:17 am

      Jerry, you have made this era and the theme of recovery a vital one in your own work. That sixties anthology is terrific. I hope many readers here check out your review by clicking on your name and photo.

      So many millions of stories and so many ways to tell them today. Thanks for the visit. I need to check in with you again too. I always enjoy seeing what you are up to.

  4. Marian Beaman on December 2, 2013 at 9:52 am

    Those two phrases, “the war years” and “Eastern Mennonite College” are an odd and fascinating juxtaposition. Of course, you should write about those years. I would be able to visualize the setting, that’s for sure!

    • shirleyhs on December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      Thanks for the vote of confidence, Marian. You will start to see me experimenting with this blog after the first of the year. One great thing about blogging is that you can keep tweaking the focus as your own life and work evolves. I look forward to watching you do the same.

  5. Sharon Lippincott on December 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Fascinating video, Shirley. I’m not proud to say that I spaced out most of that era, busy raising babies. That first baby saved my husband from the draft when he finished grad school, and that was pretty much the only thought I gave to it. In our insular community of Richland, Washington, far from any city or campus, if there was community activism, I missed it. Overall, I’m not sorry I missed it. I just wish that when someone gave a war, NOBODY showed up!

    Yes, yes, yes. May that sequel gush forth fully formed and ready to go to press — or close to it.

    • shirleyhs on December 5, 2013 at 6:12 pm

      Sharon, I was sure I responded to your fascinating story, but maybe I was remembering our exchange on Jerry’s blog. One thing is sure. The sixties were not the same all through the decade; nor were the young people of that time all living the same way. Lots of stereotypes, which means an invitation to keep telling stories! Thanks, Sharon, for this comment. I now have a vivid picture of you as a young mom.

  6. Laurie Buchanan on December 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    At 12, I don’t remember my own reaction so much as my parent’s — especially my mother who crumpled into a fetal position on the floor in front of our black and white television set and cried.

    Thank you for being a “way-shower” to other authors for potential opportunities to share their work.

    And yes, I am most definitely interested in reading about your life while attending Eastern Mennonite College.

    • shirleyhs on December 2, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      I see that image of your mother crumpled on the floor. Did you have a brother whose number was low? It would be hard for young people today to imagine the impact of the draft lottery.

      Thanks for the encouragement. I’ll keep looking for ways to help other writers publish and for new trends in book marketing/community building.

      So glad to have you in my community, Laurie.

  7. Lynette Meck on December 3, 2013 at 9:54 am

    I hope you write a sequel on your college years and that it will include stories of the student activism of the 60s. My most poignant memory of the EMC (now EMU) campus at that time was student unity in a fund raising effort to build a new library. They did it! This gained national attention at a time students in many colleges and universities were engaged in riots and destruction as a means of protesting “the establishment.”

    • shirleyhs on December 4, 2013 at 2:10 pm


      Thanks so much for this comment. I will definitely want to delve into that story, which took place my senior year. Tell me more about you! If you want to email instead of coming back here: shirley.showalter(at) gmail.com

  8. Janet Givens on December 5, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I add another vote for your sequel. The 60s was indeed an exciting era to be alive. The first half (with the civil rights struggle in the far away south) was different from the second half (the anti Vietnam War activism right in my own backyard.) But both helped me grow up to believe that I needed to take a stand, somewhere. Now, after reading your many Comments here, I’m tempted to start my own memoir of the 60s, just as soon as I get this current Peace Corps memoir off the presses. Off to work.

    • shirleyhs on December 5, 2013 at 4:58 pm

      Thanks, Janet. Sounds like you have some great sixties stories. Let’s stay in touch as we both try to navigate how to tell stories and elicit stories from others.

      I can tell you’ve lived a life of adventure. Glad to be in your village!

  9. Woody Starkweather on December 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    I graduated from college in ’61 and became a father shortly (a little too shortly) after that. But then they started drafting fathers too, as long as they were under a certain age, and I was one year older. But then they began to raise the age, one year at a time, and I was always one year older than the minimum. By then I was a full-time graduate student, finally, getting my doctorate in ’69. I began teaching at my first university job when the student strikes began.

    I never thought it as an exciting time, more like a kind of mass hysteria that I sympathized with. It was just wild.

  10. shirleyhs on December 5, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Sounds like you stayed just ahead of the crowd the whole way though this decade, Woody. Thanks for sharing your story. I hope you’ll come back and share more of it. That hint about becoming a father early and also about your work in the university interests me. So does your distinction between hysteria and excitement. You gave me a lot to think about in one comment!

  11. Glen Nafziger on January 7, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    I am completely new at this writing business and I don’t know how much I might get involved but I do enjoy reading the posts. I would be interested in the sequel to “Blush”.

    • shirleyhs on January 7, 2014 at 4:01 pm

      Glen, the neat thing about writing is that we can learn a lot from reading, and we can share our stories in many ways. Thanks for stopping by. I’m honored by your presence.

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