A Collaborative Project Between Community Members and Drake University Students

Lu McCarney

11230611_1695284630698812_4850812630530080820_nI had the distinct pleasure to conduct an oral history with an Lu McCarney. When I first met her, she grabbed me, gave me a hug and immediately started talking like we were old friends who had known each other for many years. She had many interesting stories and pieces of wisdom to share.

Of all the advice that she gave me, the piece that most resonated with me was that stress should never dominate a person’s life and it should never be allowed to claim one’s happiness. Sadness, misfortune, even having a bad hand dealt to you in life should never be at the forefront of your mind, rather “life is too fantastic” to allow you to ruminate on such things. There is way too much out there to explore and enjoy, and there is simply not enough time to dwell on these. Through the life which Lu described to me, she has obviously made this an important tenet in her life.

Lu has lived quite a life, and it was amazing to hear glimpses of it. From life in Mexico to the United States, she has always found room for adventure and for new experiences. I hope to convey her warmth and spirit through this oral history.


Growing Up


  1. Benet Conlin

    There’s a lot of strong descriptions and information.

    Try to avoid repetition. In the beginning, I came across quite a bit of repetition either remove it or rephrase it so readers aren’t reading the same thing over again. On one phrase in particular: ” I was never depressed, just mad” maybe block quote it.
    Where Lu talks about her home place, maybe add a map to help clear things up.
    I also recommend that you add links to the next page as it’s tiresome for the reader to have to scroll up and find where to go next.

    You do a good job on detailing her life.

  2. Lourdes Gutierrez Najera

    You clearly convey Lu’s sense of generous and adventurous spirit. In terms of revision/editing, please pay attention to the following.

    1) Link all your pages at the bottom
    2) Your writing is choppy and not well organized. Please make sure that your paragraphs hold together. There are paragraphs that have multiple ideas/strands. Work on keeping like ideas together. If you are a talking about education, make the entire paragraph about that, etc.
    2) As I said in class, avoid using “…” There is no need for this since we are not transcribing. You need to create a fluid narrative. It is your job to take the transcript and create a narrative that flows smoothly. For ex. “… because we had no brothers…to be attracted to; to have the… y’know.” Please change.
    3) Your writing is redundant/repetitive. Please clean up your language. At times you can combine sentences to make them read more clearly. For example you say “We used to make several trips to the United States when I was young. One time we even visited with the intention of helping the government with the war effort during World War II. During the Second World War, the government of the United States logically checked to see who all had that degree of structural engineering, because they needed the help for landing strips and all that for the planes and stuff during the war. So then they invited my father, living in Mexico, a Mexican citizen, to come to the United States, to help in that, venture. So we moved to Alhambra, California. During that time and I was a very young child, and so, we lived there. And so then, all of a sudden my father gets drafted, even though he is a guest of the United States. And it was due to the fact that they were already full force into the Second World War, with the allies into the Second World War, and they were bombarding air strips a lot and they needed these experts in the field and they couldn’t do it unless my father was drafted.”
    You could rewrite this to say: ”
    We used to make several trips to the United States when I was young. We even visited with the intention of helping the government with the war effort during World War II. At the time, the American government was in desperate need of structural engineers to help with their aircraft and landing strips. They even recruited workers outside of the United States. So they invited my father, who at the time lived in Mexico, and was a Mexican citizen, to help in that venture. At the time I was a very young child but my father agreed and we moved from Mexico to Alhambra, California. But all of a sudden my father was drafted. Even though he was a guest of the United States, the war was in full force and the allies needed experts to bomb enemy air strips. Because of his skills, he was recruited.”

    Please go through the narrative and make these kinds of changes. There is quite a bit of revising/editing you will need to tighten up the prose.

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