Write Your Stories
Writing Prompts with Jerry Witkovsky, founder of the Grandparent-Grandchild Connection
Welcome! I’m so delighted that you have signed up to join this writing adventure. Twice a week you will receive a prompt. Set your timer for 10 minutes and go! Why 10 minutes? It’s an easy time commitment. For that short period of time you will write non-stop, not allowing any other voice in your head to stop you!
Even when the prompt takes you somewhere you didn’t expect. That’s why I started with this prompt, on purpose. I wasn’t allowed in my parents’ room growing up, so my memory took me to something my wife had. And that’s okay.
These are your stories. Your treasures. They will capture your memories, your milestones, your feelings, to share a secret peek into your world with your own grandchildren.
There’s no right or wrong. There’s just you. Ready, set, go! We recommend 25-400 words and don’t worry about the spelling.
After each journal entry is complete, we invite you to submit your stories to JCC Chicago to be published on our website and shared with the community.
If you opt to submit content to JCC Chicago, you are agreeing that JCC Chicago can publish your writing and share it on social media. Writings can be submitted to GGC@jccchicago.org.
There were the things we could touch. Mostly the things we couldn’t. Old photos of people we didn’t know, or couldn’t reconcile, like your parents’ parents, your own grandparents, when they were young. Close your eyes and remember what you saw.
On my mother’s dresser…
Of course, grandma only has eyes for grandpa, and vice versa. But what about the first time you noticed that the opposite sex might offer more than cooties? Did you have class together? Were you neighbors? Where did you first see them? What were they wearing? What did you like about them?
My first crush…
I was very adept at shooting marbles. The kids on my street would play in front of my house because we had a clear piece of “clean” dirt…no grass or weeds. Kick the can, played right in the middle of the street, was another big one for our gang. What games did you play growing up? Were they “indoors” or “outdoors” games? What was your favorite?
My favorite games growing up…
There are certain smells and tastes that can transport you right back to a specific moment in time. Perhaps you were sitting in Grandma’s kitchen. Or maybe there was her signature banana cake you could always count on. Did you get to help cook the Passover meal, or were you blocked from the kitchen? Maybe grandma let you lick the bowl from the poppyseed cookies. Did you have a favorite, that only grandma could make just right?
In my grandma’s kitchen…
Spanking was not uncommon when I was a boy. It might be for leaving my bike in the driveway or telling a lie. Not doing my chores was a sure trigger for dad’s anger. My mom would wait ‘til dad got home from work to tell him. Just when I thought I was safe. “I was doing homework,” I would plead. How about you? What did get in trouble for as a child? Any excuses that got you out of it?
My dad got mad when…
When I picked up my Harper High School yearbook. I was transported back to 1946, holding the book under my arm as I wandered the halls of Harper High School looking for friends to sign it. There was me in my ROTC uniform. Another on the tennis court. What was high school like for you? Do you recognize the people in your yearbook? Do you recognize yourself? What do the things people wrote remind you of?
When I open my high school yearbook…
In some families, birthdays are national holidays. In others they pass without fanfare. Was there a special tradition or a favorite cake? Or maybe a special birthday party? Did you have to share with your siblings, or did you get to be the star on your birthday?
My most memorable birthday growing up…
Were you lucky enough to grow up with a Spot, or Fido or Whiskers? Was it your pet you remember so fondly? Or perhaps you had a run in with a friend’s pet. Maybe it was the pet you wished for, but never got to have?
My favorite pet…
What did you watch as a kid? Or for me, it was listening to the radio—there was no TV yet. The Lone Ranger, The Shadow Knows. It was the time between after school and before dinner. I actually helped my mom by doing it, by staying out of the way. What did you watch or listen to after school? Which program did you like best? What did you like about it?
My after-school routine…
Grocery shopping! Did you get to go with your parents? Did you love it or hate it? What do you remember about the store, what the smells, the sounds? Did you get to push the cart? I was on my best behavior, hoping the whole time my mom would reward me by buying me my favorite butter cookies.
At the grocery store…
Did you wear a school uniform? Did your mom pick your clothes for you? What did you pick for yourself, when you come home from school and changed to go out and play? In my day we still wore knickers. When I asked for long pants, my mom said “sure,” as long as I agreed to iron them. I decided it was worth it! Whether it was something from when you were little, or the hottest thing in high school—what was the item you never wanted to give up?
My favorite outfit…
Families spend a lot of time in their kitchen. Meals together, snacks. Time spent together, perhaps sharing stories of the day. Did you have a favorite utensil? For me, the spatula my mom used to make eggs sticks with me. As does a specific pot my mom used to make my dad’s favorite chicken soup. And even though I’d been at the store, I still liked to sneak and see what things hidden I could find hidden in the pantry shelves.
My family kitchen when I was a child…