MARQUETTE - A sad occasion has led to something positive for Marquette native Patrice Olivier Wilson.
And that something positive also has drawn the attention of thousands of central Upper Peninsula natives all thanks to Facebook, the social networking site.
"I had just returned from a trip home to Marquette for my mom's funeral. While a sad event, it was a wonderful trip home and I realized how much I had missed Marquette, my family and friends," Wilson said in an email interview. "Within a week or so of returning, someone in my Facebook group of friends posted to this Marquette page, so I followed it back and joined. There were only about 100 people at that point. Within about a week, there were more than 2,000 people."
That page, for the group "You Know You Are From Marquette if....," has nearly 2,500 members who have been sharing memories and photos of their hometown.
A similar group, "You Know You Grew Up in Ishpeming, Westwood or Negaunee if...," has more than 2,000 members including Ishpeming native Gwen Brown Dickerson, who has been so riveted by the postings she is looking into creating a book based in part on what's she has read.
For Wilson, who now lives near Asheville, N.C., reading the memories has been a fantastic lift.
"It is amazing how much you can forget over the years (and miles)," she said. "The topics brought back many memories I had totally forgotten, and from others' comments, it seemed to be the same for them.
"It is very addictive, however, so I've had to remove the email alert so I can get my work done!"
For Dickerson, who now resides in downstate Troy, the page is an extension of her yearly visits to her beloved hometown and it has revived her nearly lifelong goal of creating a book.
"I have enjoyed chatting with many high school friends on my regular Facebook page for the past two years. I am not too computer savvy, but figured out how to do that and it's been great," Dickerson said in an email. "One day, Marian Brown Kulju posted something on the memory site and it posted on my page. And so I clicked on it and the rest is out there for all to read!
"For so many years when I go home I get together with my old friends and we talk of old times. We did that around the camp firepit in July. As we get older the conversation also turns to family stories as so many have already, or are now, losing their parents. And that leads us to talking about how we were raised and how we have/or are raising our kids and grandkids."
Dickerson, who has four children, said her youngest is now 17, so her long-held desire to write a book is now a possibility.
"I have always known that I would write a book one day. I just didn't have it all narrowed down and in focus. Realizing that most everyone from home has at least some great positive memories i wondered what would be the best way to gather all of that information," she said. "Of course, a Facebook group. I'm a bit slow on the uptake at times! But, after quickly getting addicted to the site, laughing more than I have in so long, and my mind (and heart) flooding with memories of friends, good times, family and who and what we have all become because of who and where we were way back when took over. I was awake most of one night thinking about all of this.
"And I knew not only that I wanted to try to write this book, but that the freedom I have in my life for this brief time not only allows for it, but that I should give it a chance."
With more than 2,000 people on the site, Dickerson - a 1981 graduate of Northern Michigan University - said she knew some wouldn't be as excited as she about the idea so she wants to clarify her book notion for anyone who is concerned.
"My intention was never to just copy the comments next to the names, print it all, and sell it. How exactly would that reach my goal to write a book? Anyone could do that I suppose if they wanted to," Dickerson said. "My intention was/and is simple ... preserve our legacies of growing up in Ishpeming ... for us, for the next generation, and to honor the families that came before us and are the reason whey we were/are there in the first place."
And her goal is to portray her hometown in a glowing light.
"My plan is in motion, gathering memories, formatting chapters, brainstorming how it all fits together. I plan also to set up an email address or website on which people can reply to specific questions with their memories, comments, questions," Dickerson said. "In the meantime, everyone can feel free to comment away on the memory site knowing that my intentions are only positive about who we are and where we all call 'home.'"
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.