The Story of Opal: the Journal of an Understanding Heart was said to be based on Opal's childhood diary, written when she was about 6 or 7 years old.
Opal claimed to have written the diary mostly with crayon, on scraps of paper, using phonetic spellings and no punctuation. She also said that her sister later tore up the pages of the diary. She said she kept all the pieces stored in boxes.
When the Atlantic Monthly expressed interest in her childhood diary, Opal spent months piecing the pages back together. She added the correct spellings and punctuation but otherwise, she claimed, the diary was the same as when it was written as a child.
The original diary has long since disappeared. One witness claims it was thrown away. A few pages are thought to exist.
© 2013 Oregon Public Broadcasting.