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Grandparents sharing memoirs at museum
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Mary Hildebrand lived through one of the worst snowstorms to hit Pennsylvania during the early part of the 20th century.

She was only 13 years old at the time. But it was not the inclement weather and being snowed in for three weeks that left its indelible mark in her young mind. It was the birth of her younger brother. Since she was the only one in the house with her pregnant mother when her brother decided it was time to join humanity, young Hildebrand did what needed to be done and tended to her mother in labor.

“The year I grew up” is the title she gave to the memoir piece she wrote about that harrowing experience. It was part of her collection of memoirs that she completed at the recently concluded eight-week “Letters to my Grandchildren” writing class offered by the Manteca Historical Society and Museum.

Hildebrand will be one of eight participants from that group of writers who will be reading and sharing their stories on Thursday during the museum’s monthly program starting at 7 p.m. It is open to the public free of charge, and light refreshments will be served.

“They are all good stories; some are funny,” Historical museum director Evelyn Prouty, who was also the class facilitator, said of the stories written by the members of the class.

The eight readers at the Thursday program will be reading excerpts from their writings, Prouty said. Each reading will probably last two to three minutes, or four minutes at the most, she said.

Military veteran Rocky Wilson will be one of the readers. He will be sharing memories of his childhood when his father died and he was sent to live in an orphanage.

Eleanor Vierra will share her story about meeting President Jimmy Carter during his visit to Merced. It’s a “cute story” from the 1970s, Prouty said. The story apparently has an O. Henry-type of twist. Vierra’s husband was supposed to be the one shaking hands with Carter but she ended up enjoying that privilege. How that happened will be part of the story that she will be sharing on Thursday.

The next session of “Letters to my Grandchildren” will be offered in October, Prouty said.

The museum is located at 600 West Yosemite Avenue. For more information about other museum programs and events, or how to become a docent, call (209) 825-3021 or visit