Memories of Belleville
By Lin Parkin
When the pandemic was unfolding, local realtor and author Connie Carson suffered a stroke and battled cancer. A natural people-person, being isolated during her recovery was tough, but Carson devised a way to overcome the seclusion.
“I was home one evening, sitting around, and it was getting late at night. I was feeling really disconnected from people. This pandemic has been going on for a while now, and I’m not talking to anybody, and I’m not getting out like I’d like to. So, I thought, why don’t I start a Facebook group?”
As a lifelong resident of Belleville, Carson has always been fascinated by the city’s rich history. So she wanted to create a group that would be fun and a place where people could connect over their memories.
She called the group “Sharing Belleville Memories,” and by the next day it already had 100 followers. Fourteen months later, it is 12,000+ members strong.
Carson’s healing process was a time of great reflection: “I was a really busy real estate agent for 42 years, and after I had the stroke in March of 2020, it’s like my brain slowed down a little bit. I would sit for an hour and just look at the birds in the backyard. It was like there was a little piece missing in my brain that slows everything down, which made me want to paint and start writing stories.”
A friend from the Belleville Downtown Business District BIA suggested she write a series on the history of the downtown district for their blog.
The more Carson wrote, the better she got at it. Encouraged by the interest in her Facebook group and blog posts, Carson embarked on a deep dive into her own past.
“I wanted to get my memories down, and this kind of goes back to me getting sick. I just didn’t think that what happened to me ever would, and it did,” she says. “It made me stop and think about my life and that I would like to leave a little bit of history behind.”
In Carson’s self-published book Memories of Belleville she shares over 27 heartwarming stories of the people and places she has known over her seven decades living in the city.
“It’s some of the crazy things I did, trips I took and being in real estate,” she says. “I took a trip in my own head back to when I was a little girl, being born here, and all the stuff that happened to me as I was growing up. Stuff I didn’t remember, but it all came back to me. It was quite a journey.”
To request a copy of Memories of Belleville visit the Sharing Belleville Memories group on Facebook.