If journalism—my beloved former trade—isn’t quite a first record of history, oral history surely is. Spend time with a person of wisdom that only comes with age, and you can see there is more to life than the day-to-day rat race. The purpose of life revolves around the people with whom we share this life. And people have so many stories.
Thinking about all of this, I was inspired to start a project. To start with, here’s a hidden gem: the Woodbury Heritage Society has collected a number of oral histories on cassette tapes. The heritage society graciously lent me 37 of them, and I’m working through the interviews, presentations and readings. Getting up to speed on Woodbury history is a monumental job. But it’s fascinating to hear Woodbury history as told by the voices of those who shaped the town.
When you next talk to a senior citizen, be open to hearing stories about the Woodbury of old. You’ll hear how the town grew up from Big Woods and swampland to farm fields and into a shopping and medical facility mecca. It doesn’t take much digging to find a photo of the only stoplight in town—and you’d be surprised at how recent that photo is.
What a privilege to have a heritage society that has preserved these conversations for future generations. I’ve resolved to glean some of the wisdom of old Woodbury. May a shred of that wisdom grow on me, so I can share it with you.
Mathias Baden is a Realtor, a former editor of the Woodbury Bulletin, and a Woodbury Heritage Society member. If you have an idea for the next heritage column, call or text 612.327.1748.