People don’t share stories like they used to in the South.
Kristin Alger realized that when she moved from Boaz to Florida then to near Chicago.
“Moving up North, I could see the difference of the two areas,” Alger said. “The Midwest helped me tremendously. It is like North-lite. It isn’t all that far from what I was accustomed to.
“But they just don’t set and tell stories like we do in rural Alabama.”
Alger, a self-proclaimed Boaz native, said she began recording family stories on her long road trips with her husband, Paul, who is from Aurora, Ill.
“I was really doing it for our children,” she said. “But when I put them together, I thought, ‘Wow! This could be a book.’ So I started working on it.”
Born was her book, “So, It Happened Like This,” a series of stories based on her life’s experiences.
The problem quickly became how best to organize her series of seemingly random stories.
“The stories came out just how they popped into my head,” Alger said. “Now I have them divided into where I was living at the time and how the stories go together.”
She lived in Florida prior to moving to Illinois. She realized the couple would travel North a few times every year, but never between November and March.
“When we moved to Illinois on Jan. 1, they were having a warm spell and the temperatures were 45 or 48 degrees,” she said. “Little did I know that was a beautiful winter day. I realized quickly that I had never really experienced the North.”
One story leads to another
Since publishing her book, Alger hears from her readers - comments both good and bad.
“I’ve had two people get on to me about how tired they are after reading my book,” she said. “Come to find out, one of them stayed up till 3 a.m. reading the book. They couldn’t put the book down.
“Another fun thing that has come out of this is people comment on how parallel our lives really are.
“When I tell a story, it will remind someone ese of a story from their life. That’s been the most fun for me … helping people stop and recall their own stories.”
A writer, not a reader
Alger said her goal with the book is to lighten everyone’s spirit, particularly now with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t like to read made-up stories,” she said. “When I do read, I like to learn something or read a real story.
“That’s what I like about books like the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series. You can start reading, then put it down and walk away. But when you are able to go back to reading, you just start at a new story.”
Having lived in at least three different areas, Alger said she relates well to most people she’s come in contact with.
“When we travel, and we stop anywhere south of I-80, I always think, ‘Am I close to home?’ Things just don’t seem that different from Boaz,” she said.
I-80 runs from California to New York City, passing through the northern most portion of the state of Illinois, just south of Chicago.
Growing up in Boaz
While Alger’s family moved to Boaz from Michigan when she was an infant, she proudly proclaims herself a Boaz native.
She takes readers on a virtual tour of the area through her stories.
The first chapter, Sand Mountain Daze, includes stories particular to her life in Boaz.
“We used to play out in Old Man Parker’s fields,” Alger said. “We never knew his name. He was always just Old Man Parker.
“My understanding is now that is where the middle school is. (The area is now part of Newt Parker Drive.)
“Boaz of the mid-1960 and 1970s was the perfect place to grow up. We had a lot of old-fashioned outdoor fun.
“We played with our friends and ate at whoever’s house we happened to be at for lunch, and then we went back outside.
“If you got into trouble, the closest adult reprimanded you. They all had permission.
“It is not at all the same type of childhood my children had.”
Where to buy
Alger’s book is available online on Amazon or by logging on to her website, soithappenedlikethis.weebly.com.
From there, readers can enjoy a sample of her book and find a link to purchase the book.
“I’d love to get the book sold in bookstores, but COVID hit and lots of places closed,” she said. “That’s something I want to see happen in the future.”