You probably know the story: you’re someplace far, far from home and meet a stranger only to discover that they once lived down the street from you, worked on the same floor as you or are somehow related to you.
I had just such a moment in Nashville Friday when I arrived for a workshop on interviewing at the 2007 Conference of the Association of Personal Historians. It was something of a fluke that I was in the session at all. My original workshop on online caching had been canceled, so I opted to attend the interview session instead.
The seat I chose just happened to be next to Barbara Tabach, now of Henderson, Nevada. But for many years Barbara was the owner of one of Des Moines’ more popular stores, Schaffer’s Bridal Shop. Schaffer’s was a must-stop for high school girls attending state basketball tournaments in Des Moines every March, the official opening of prom dress buying season in our state.
Barbara, who graduated from Lincoln High School and Drake University in Des Moines, left the state following the floods of 1993, first to Scottsdale, Ariz., then to the Las Vegas area where she now operates her personal history business, LifeCatching.
Despite her 27 years in retailing, Barbara has been an active writer most of her life. She once taught English and journalism and was a freelance writer during her years at Schaffer’s.
She started LifeCatching 18 months ago and in May published a book, LifeCatching. Barbara has also carved out a bit of fame in the Vegas area because of the demise of the Frontier Hotel. The long-standing landmark on the strip, where Elvis Presley made his Las Vegas debut, closed after a 65-year run in July and will be imploded this Tuesday at the only-in-Vegas time of 2:30 a.m.
“In Las Vegas they blow up history,” Barbara said. “They take it casually.”
Barbara’s oral history project on the Frontier has already resulted in a soon-to-be-published memory book and a full-fledged book will follow. She’s already done around 50 “substantial interviews.” Barbara is also co-authoring a book with Early Clover, frontman for the singing group, Cornell Gunter’s Coasters. “His is a compelling story,” Barbara said.
Photo: Barbara Tabach at APH Conference by lwlehmer.