When my articles cover impactful events, I’m conscious of the details. Recently, I spoke with an established member of the Ivy Hill Community about her experience with Bob Hope’s visit to Lynchburg. Although her memory was extremely reliable, I cross-checked the facts for two key reasons. First, I didn’t want to bog down the interview with follow-up questions. Second, I value accuracy in reporting, even for a lifestyle magazine. It’s an important writing tip for any project.
Feature Article for Life in the Ivy Magazine
I interviewed Ann Hite for a series of articles for Life in the Ivy. Another subject, Nan Perdue, mentioned that Ann moved in soon after the community was established. Also, she participated in the events surrounding Bob Hope’s visit to help fundraise for the local hospital in 1977.
Researching Before the Interview
Before the interview, I sourced several articles on Bob Hope’s visit. The News and Advance had some old coverage that included dates and times for his visit.
This allowed me to put together some clarifying questions. For example, I couldn’t find any information that connected Bob Hope to the City of Lynchburg. Most of the articles didn’t identify why Hope was willing to travel to such a small city for a fairly small cause.
Getting the Timeline Straight
When I spoke with Ann, I asked questions that allowed her to set herself in the middle of the story. To capture her point of view, we reviewed the events of 1977 day-by-day leading up to Hope’s arrival.
She knew that Hope had a soft spot for both hospitals and golf courses— another detail for me to research and confirm. Ann mentioned a few of his jokes which added color to the story.
The day-by-day review unearthed little nuggets like how they spent all day creating a giant floral arrangement with a welcome message. Also, she remembered that Hope secretly hung around the golf course after the event. He wanted to play the back nine in peace.
Ending With Clarification
As Ann and I talked through the events, I jotted down points to clarify at the end. I didn’t want to interrupt her to ask for exact locations or spellings for names.
After our interview ended, I snapped a few images and asked her to confirm details. Those clarifying questions helped me maintain the accuracy of the article without disrupting the storytelling process.
To see how I worked the timeline into Ann Hite’s article, read the interview below.
MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: ANN HITE
Originally published at Life in the Ivy
Ann Hite laughs and smiles generously, especially when she tells stories from her time in Ivy Hills. She treasures those stories from celebrity encounters to world travels to everyday amusements.
One of Eleven Families
Ann lives in Ivy Hill with husband Jim and son Bill. Her other son, Eppa, lives in California. After getting married, the Hites living in Richmond before moving to the Ivy Hill community.
“My husband was with the telephone company and we were transferred here from Richmond,” Ann explained.
When Ann moved into Ivy Hill, only 11 families were living in the community. In 1974, the three existing streets, Hitching Post Lane, Trading Block Lane, and Quail Ridge Drive, had occupied homes. According to Ann, you could see from Hitching Post Lane across the fairway to miles of rolling hills and woods.
Soon after joining the community, Ann and others decided to start the Ivy Hill Ladies’ club. Most of the families were new to the area and wanted a way to socialize with their neighbors.
Ann explained, “Everyone was in charge at one time or another. In fact, every member had to serve on a committee. Somebody’s got to do the work, you know.”
The club puts on several events during the year, including socials. Ann looks back fondly on those past events in Ivy Hill. In particular, she remembers Bob Hope’s appearance.
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Another Writing Tip
If you want to improve your writing, I recommend keeping outlining in a planner or journal. It helps you plan out your big ideas into full-fledged stories. Then, you can keep a clear list of everything you need to fact-check.