"I could write a book," is a phrase reporters often hear on the streets when interviewing people about the circumstances of their lives.
But could they write it in less than 300 words?
If so, The Autobiography Project would love to read it, and a panel is aiming to cull the best of these Philadelphia stories and slap them on bus station walls this summer.
The project honors Ben Franklin, who wrote a popular autobiography himself.
So far The Autobiography Project's Web site has posted about 50 pieces. People wanting to share something about their lives and times have until May 17th to get their stories down. And in. The Ben Franklin Tercentenary is behind the program, as is One Book, One Philadelphia. The Inquirer is also sponsor. Don't let that stop you.
Page through the Web site to read about:
Charlotte Wilson, whose answer to a personal ad brought her visits from a TV crew and the interest of the U.S. Secret Service.
David Sylvester, who lost a friend named on Sept. 11, 2001, and then biked across the country to raise awareness for a scholarship he started in his friend's name. Which led to biking across two continents, and filming a documentary, and writing for a national magazine to keep alive the memory of Kevin Bowser.
Rosalind Kaplan, cherishing the chaos of her household.
Jake Simon, a Hockessin, Del., boy with three robotic dogs and dreams of inventing a sun-powered hover car at MIT.
Candi Petock, the self-styled "Queen of Suburbia" who kept to her Bucks County burg, wary of the crime-ridden big city, until one day discovered Betsy Ross' house, then Old City and ultimately a local feast called cheesesteaks. She's now addicted.
Some of these tales are heart-tugging accounts of remembrance and loss. Many are joyous.
Here's Dennis Capoferri's birthday message to his father, gone since 1973. It's called "Having a Great Time, Wish You Were Here:"
Its 2006 and a lot has happened to me and the world you knew when you left in 73.
Ive been a painting contractor for 25 years.
Back then, a new dad. Now, a grandfather.
I know you always liked technology, inventions and construction. You would have liked Cell Phones, GPS, E-mail, HDTV, TiVo, Digicams, Plasma Screens, DVDs, Surround Sound, the Internet, cordless tools and drywall screws. Everything has a clock and a remote control. You have no idea what youre missing.
On the down side, theyve tampered with the simple perfection of the potato chip, made beer "lite" and burgers "turkey". All signs of the apocalypse.
They actually, finally built the Blue Route, a stadium called Waterfront Park stands where you once worked and sleepy Newtown has a Bypass. The World Trade Center they were building then is gone now, Ill explain later.
I like more types of music now than when I just liked what annoyed you.
I have a bench that once occupied the Reading Terminal waiting room. Maybe we sat on it back in the 50s, switching trains on our way to Royersford before we finally bought that 63 Rambler.
Did I mention EVERYTHING has a remote control?
I still drive fast. Eat fast. Grind my teeth. Work with my hands. Hate rules (this piece is 301 words) and put too much cheese on everything. My pet is a parrot.
Apparently, high cholesterol in the blood causes heart attacks so I take medicine to lower it rather than quit eating cheesesteaks.
Cars dont rust and usually start but gas is $3.
And that birdhouse you made in 1961 hangs from my apple tree. Unoccupied for 45 years, it finally has a tenant. Moved in May 1st
. Happy Birthday Dad.