By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – Glenn O’Kray, editor of three volumes of “Best Dearborn Stories – Voices from Henry Ford’s Hometown,” said understanding the past is key to understanding the city and its residents today.
“If we want to understand who we are, we have to have a good sense of the past,” O’Kray said. “If we don’t record the past, then we won’t have a good sense of who we are and why we are who we are.”
The collections of stories, published as a fundraiser for the Dearborn Historical Society, are written by current and past city residents, and visitors, ranging in age from grade school children to people pushing the century mark.
O’Kray, who has been asking people to tell him their stories for years, said he usually gets one of two responses: they have no stories to tell, or too many.
“So I’ve got to pull it out of them,” O’Kray said. “Everybody has a life story, and everybody has an item of interest that is really, truly interesting.”
He said reading through the many stories submitted for consideration has shown him the multitude of beliefs that people have politically and socially.
“That’s one of the great things about the city,” he said. “It truly is a melting pot. We have people who have a wide range of beliefs.”
He lives on Morley, two blocks from where he grew up, and said his block has an interesting mix of people, which he categorizes as half Democratic and half Republican.
Asking people for their stories also has added to his own repertoire: He recently met a story contributor who was born on the same day as him at the former Dearborn Memorial Hospital at Oakwood and Morley.
“He was my first roommate,” O’Cray said.
O’Kray said reading and editing the stories of the difficult times people have endured has made him a more tolerant person.
“Just to acknowledge that life is rough, somewhere in our life, for everybody,” O’Kray said. “And once you come to terms with that, hopefully you are a better person.”
While O’Kray doubts his wife would tolerate him editing a fourth volume of stories, he urges people with Dearborn ties to get their stories on paper, whether serious or silly.
“I encourage everybody to write down their stories for the next generation,” he said. “I think that people assume that those living around them will always remember what they are about, but people forget. So to write it down will enhance the next generation.”
Proceeds from the sale of “Best Dearborn Stories” benefit the Dearborn Historical Society. To order any of the three volumes, go to thedhm.com or go to the Dearborn Historical Museum, 915 S. Brady St.