Our own Margaret Simkins has just published her memoir. What a 10-year feat! It’s called Peace, Love and Harmony … Aren’t Just Words.
Anyone who has started a memoir knows some of the challenges, such as focusing on readers who are intimates while not forgetting the broader audience, balancing stories about oneself with information about the era and keeping the story lively with more than a teaspoon of humor.
Sun Lakes resident Margaret handles all of those challenges as she shares her life story. And you can learn a lot about the previous nine decades from the perspective of this housewife who became a political activist.
There is something to appeal to everyone. I loved the Irish cultural references and expressions like “the red-eyed rowsies” and her uncle’s retort when hearing someone concerned about a stain: “A man on a galloping horse would never notice that.”
Margaret shares relationship issues, like feeling she was her father’s favorite; only once did he scold her — when she opened an umbrella in the house (‘tis bad luck!).
Having grown up in the Detroit area (Dearborn), Margaret shares personal insights (like shopping for her First Communion outfit at Hudson’s) and broader details like the average cost of a home in 1927 ($7600) and the cost of a postage stamp (2 cents). I was surprised to hear that in 1941 she earned 35 cents an hour babysitting; that’s what I earned in 1958. I like that this look back at 20th century life made me think about my own life as well as hers.
Margaret moved to Sun Lakes in 1979. She takes a look back at that era in our neighborhood and updates the view to include new possibilities for engagement, like theatre events, Neighbors Who Care, Restless Minds and New Adventures in Learning. Meet some of her friends, like Lois Valleau and Chris Erribo. You might see them at Margaret’s annual St. Patrick’s Day party, which she and husband Earl have put on annually — and she still does.
You might like to read about her growing political activism. Chances are, you will recognize places and names from this part of her life. Carl Sagan? Kris Kristofferson? Can you see Margaret sitting between them on her way to a hearing after having been arrested at a nuclear test site? (I think you’re nodding if you do know her.)
You probably expect to learn about the author’s family in a memoir. That might be the part that appeals most to you. I do think it’s the hardest part in which to exercise a key attribute of a memoir: candor. Margaret shares a positive look at her heirs (including parents of four brand new great grandbabies), and it comes across very well—positive and genuine.
Read her book to find out why she was fired at 15 — which is the only time she was sacked — as well as her challenges and successes. And look for her words of wisdom. That section is short and simply profound.
Finally, she reminds us that Peace, Love, And Harmony … Aren’t Just Words — they are powerful tools when they’re believed and put into action.
Her book will be available from Amazon (search by complete title) and at Creative Space.com. Contact [email protected] for more information, or drop by to chat with Margaret.