Grandparents Get Involved
- Ideas for Grandparents
Record Your Albums
from A Grandpa's Notebook
by Meyer Moldeven
Inquiries I've received from
too-faraway grandparents include audio taping stories,
family lore and anecdotes, especially family history.
Several commented that talking was easier for them
In my responses I told about
the time and circumstances that I had taped a commentary
to our family's photo and document album, and how
I went about it.
For almost 40 years my wife
and I, and before they left for college, our children,
moved about the United States and the world, working
and living our lives. We had accumulated a fair
number of photos and documents over the years;
they were important parts of our family history.
During those active years,
family archives were low priority. During periods
of relative quiet we reminded ourselves to organize
our records, add notes on the reverse sides of
photos and important documents, and file them away
in albums. As with most families, my wife had all
the names, dates, places, and the why and how details
catalogued and stored in her mind. We thought we
had plenty of time. We did not.
Months after the tragedy, when
I was able to focus my thoughts again, one of my
many tasks was to gather the cartons, shoeboxes
and envelopes of photos and documents. I spread
them across every available clear space and tried
to make sense of the lot. Many, from past generations,
were scenes from the early part of the twentieth
century and before. I separated the collection
into two groups: Group One: preceding our meeting
and marriage, and Group Two: our life together
and those who became a part of it.
Group One went into albums
as Part A: my wife before we met and her side of
the family, and Part B: the same for me and mine.
I arranged Group Two (our married life) into collections
according to the places where we had resided. The
result had many sections.
Organizing the material in
each section chronologically, I inserted them into
the albums and numbered each photo, document and
page. I identified each album sequentially on its
spine with a gold foil letter from a packet purchased
at a supermarket.
Setting up my tape recorder,
I opened the first album. Contemplating the first
two facing pages, I recorded what I was going to
do in a general introduction, then waded into the
narration: photographs, documents, and the flooding
memories. Nothing fancy, low key, free association.
The first volumes dealt with
people of whom I knew little, so my comments were
brief and sketchy. When I reached familiar ground,
my remarks were detailed: 'Picture 4 on Page 12
was taken in August of '52 when we lived in beautiful
downtown XYZ. Our house is on the right; in the
foreground is A, B and C, and coming down the walk
is the D family: H, I and J. Soon after the photo
was taken, by K, we all drove to AA, visited the
city of BB, and had lunch at CC. It was that afternoon
that the ZZ incident occurred, and about which
I've often talked. For those of you who haven't
heard the story, here's what happened....'
And so, far into the night
and for days and nights afterward. The task is
done, and the archives are ready to pass along
to the next generation.
Whenever the subject
comes up with others, or when I speak to groups,
I urge against putting off this task. We all
share in the two great mysteries: mortality and
uncertainty. Among the treasures we leave behind
are our memories, especially those of family
and happy times.