KELLER — Stories of what it was like to live in Keller during times past will soon be housed in Keller Public Library, thanks to local artist and curator Christopher Blay.Blay received a grant from the Arts Council of Northeast Tarrant County, which he is putting toward an oral history project to capture the city’s history and what life was like for residents years ago.Blay recently completed the same project in Haltom City, and the DVDs are housed in the Haltom City Library. He plans to collect many more stories in northeast Tarrant County, with Southlake being considered for the next project.Blay said the idea came to him while exploring the archives as he worked on a project for the Fort Worth Public Library. “I found taped interviews and typed transcripts from the early ’70s,” he said. “People talked about going through the depression, going to soup kitchens and how that started the Tarrant Food Bank.”Other inspirations include the StoryCorps project, a national oral history initiative, and listening to his mother’s stories of times past, the artist said.Blay conducted interviews Aug. 10 and Aug. 17 at the Keller Public Library. Eleven participants shared personal stories and those passed down through the generations.“I am having a blast,” Blay said. “I like listening to people’s stories.”Blay said an abundance of historical information can be found in books and newspapers but personal stories are usually not included.“The thing you long to know, is what these people were like,” he said. “I think recording oral history, not just history but everyday lives of everyday people, can give you a good view of who these people are and what the city is about.”Carol Yates Golliher, a Keller resident since she was born in 1942, said she shared stories dating back to the early 1900s when her granddad and his three brothers moved to Keller.“My uncles started their business, Knox Brothers Motor Co. ... Mother and daddy had the first True Value hardware store,” she said.Golliher also shared stories about what life was like when she was in high school, with 31 people in her graduating class of 1960.“Bronson Rock was a service station where the high school boys hung out,” she said. “At the north end of town, there was the Snack Shack ... the girls hung out there.”Golliher said she has great memories of times past in Keller, which stirred her to share the stories.“There’s just a lot of things that happened back then, fun things,” she said. “It’s my heritage.”Blay said the finished project will be put on a DVD and housed in the library sometime in September.Jana Prock, director of Keller Public Library, said she is looking forward to seeing the end results.“We’re excited about it,” she said. “It gives a perspective about Keller that we have not heard before.”For more information about Blay, go to www.blayblogger.blogspot.com. To watch the Keller project, go to http://tinyurl.com/pz7gonn. To view the Haltom City project, go to www.vimeo.com/29861756.
Susan McFarland, 817-390-7547 Twitter: @susanmcfarland1