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Posts Tagged ‘Family Archivist’

Some of my customers don’t know where to start. They open their closet doors and view the disorganization of the photos and videos and then close the door again. It seems overwhelming. But they want to experience again the memories that these photos hold – to see them displayed on their computers during the day, to share with family members, or to archive them for future generations.

Call Picture This! to help you get organized

Actually organizing and labeling the photos isn’t that difficult. Here is a step-by-step guide to get things in order so that Picture This! can scan in your photos or slides for you. We offer consulting services to help you with this task, but it is one easily done by you if you have the time.

  1. Get several cardboard file folder boxes, some hanging files and individual file folders. This works well if you have varying sizes of photos, or perhaps some mementos as well. If all of your photos are 4 x 6 inches, then archival photo boxes work well. You will need a permanent marker to write on the file folders or the index cards in the archival boxes. Some small Stickie notes might also come in handy.
  2. Find a working space that can be used for about 2 -3 weeks in your leisure time. A dining room table or large desk works well. Pull out all of the photos and photo albums. Don’t forget all the treasured photos that are in frames on the walls.
  3. You have to decide on one of two methods to organize your photos; either by year that the photo was taken, or by person or family that is in the photo itself.
    1. If most of your photos are in albums, they might be more easily organized by date and event (example: 1964 – Kate & Bill wedding).
    2. If your photos are loose or in envelopes as they were returned from the photo developer, then sorting them by person might be the easiest.
  4. Mark each folder or archival box for each person or year. An example list of folders for Kate & Bill Bolten’s family, which includes their 3 children Eddie, James, & Susan might be:
    • Young Kate with Temple Family (Kate’s maiden name)
    • Kate’s ancestors
    • Young Bill with Bolton Family
    • Bill’s ancestors
    • Kate & Bill together (dating and wedding)
    • Eddie’s childhood
    • James’s childhood
    • Susan’s childhood
    • Family group photos of young family
    • Holidays
    • Eddie & Karen (Eddie when grown and wife Karen with their children)
    • James & Jenny (James and wife Jenny)
    • James & Linda (James and second wife Linda with children)
    • Susan & Larry (Susan and husband Larry)
    • Miscellaneous
    • Large group family photos of extended families
    • Pets
    • Family Friends

    OR just label each by year that the photo was taken if you have that information.

  5. Place the files into the file folder box or open the archival boxes. Open the first envelope of photos and pull out the photos. As you take out each photo, place it in the appropriate file or envelope. If you are using archival boxes, then mark the index cards in the boxes with these categories and place the photos behind the appropriate index card separators. Take a few moments to reminisce, but try to be expedient about sorting the photos. After they are scanned, you will have much time to enjoy the images and memories. If there isn’t an existing folder or index card, label a new one and continue.
  6. If there are loose photos that you don’t want scanned, you can indicate this by keeping them in a separate box or by giving us direction about avoiding bad photos, all photos that don’t have people in them, or duplicate or similar photos.
  7. If photos are in an album, label each album with the year or event so they can be placed in folders on the DVD after they are scanned. There is no need to remove the photos from these albums – Picture This! can remove them and replace the photos for most photo albums. If there are some photos that you don’t want scanned, place a small Stickie note on these photos so that we know to skip them.
  8. Mark framed photos with a sticky note so that they can place in the appropriate folder on the DVD.
  9. Slides are usually in trays or boxes. Leave these slides in the box or tray and label each box or tray if they are not labeled. It is harder to sort out slides that you don’t want unless you have a slide viewer. Most of our customers give us direction about scanning in slides (see note 6 above).

Picture This! will return your photos to you in the boxes or folders as you sorted them. The color optimized scanned images are given to you on a DVD by folder of person or year for you to place on your computer, share with family, and archive for safe-keeping.

Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime. Call us to scan your heirloom photos or to preserve your videos. 512-263-0546

* VHS or reels to DVD
* Scan your photos or slides
* Preserve your Memories.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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I didn’t really get to know my Grandmother – my mother’s mother – until I was 26. It was my second occasion ever to see her. The whole story is quite complicated.

My Grandmother Ruby left her family when my mother was 6 months old. She abandoned her 3 sons and husband to run off with another man. She took my mother with her. This man and my grandmother robbed a train together and my grandmother was convicted of being an accomplice in the crime. She served 4 years in Federal prison in  Atlanta (See Tell the Story: Ruby ) and my mother was sent to an orphanage. My grandfather found my mother 6 months later, when she was 1 year old, and brought her home.

My Grandmother

But this story isn’t only about my grandmother and her choices, but instead getting to know this woman after hearing about her during my entire childhood years. The first time I met Ruby she came to visit our house for a week. I was in 8th grade and it was a big deal that she was visiting. I believe it was the first time that my mother saw her since her childhood. Ruby spent much time hugging my Mom and trying to caress her. My Mom was extremely uncomfortable with this show of affection. My uncle urged my Mom to get to know her mother. He had reached out to her and he said he didn’t regret it. It took years for my Mom to forgive her mother and invite her to stay at our home.

My Mom opened our door, but she kept didn’t completely open her heart. I watched my Grandmother with curiosity  – she was truly the one that I always heard stories about. Her previous antics were legendary. This woman who spent time in prison was a guest in our home. I also observed my Mom and saw a good sense of dignity and class, and forgiveness. I remember feeling compassion and respect for my Mom. But I had never seen my mother that uncomfortable.

Later, when I was first married, I received word from my uncle that my grandmother was in the hospital in Washington, D.C. Ruby lived in the projects in D.C. and during the night, she had been bitten by a rat. The infection in her leg was severe. It really bothered me that my grandmother was living in an environment that allowed this situation to happen. I didn’t have a relationship with her, but technically she was my grandmother. At my first job after college, I received a bonus check for Christmas. I decided to send this extra money to my grandmother. It seemed that she needed it more than I did.

Letter from Ruby

A few months later I received a letter from my grandmother thanking me for the gift. The letters were telling. She grasped for what to talk about. She knew what not to talk about. She thanked me for the gift and asked about my family. She remarked that I married in a Catholic church and that she grew up Catholic as well (which I didn’t know). She didn’t talk about the past, or the future – she stayed in the here and now. Most conversations between grandmothers and granddaughters are filled with expressions of affection. Ours were filled with expressions of wonder and curiosity.

A year later  my husband and I were going to the East Coast to visit my husband’s grandparents. We were driving and decided to detour through D.C. to visit my grandmother. My grandmother awaited our visit and was pleased that family was coming to see her. We parked the car outside her senior-living high-rise apartment and my husband, my baby boy and I nervously crossed the street to get inside. The neighborhood was marked with graffiti and some building had broken windows. We thought we might not see our car when we came back out, but ventured into the apartment building anyhow. We were all nervous, but not sure what caused us the most angst: the visit itself or the neighborhood. We only had 3 hours for the visit because we had booked a hotel out of town for the night.

Getting to know my Grandmother

I hadn’t seen Ruby in 14 years and she had definitely aged. Remarkably, she exhibited my mother’s mannerisms. She stuttered when she answered the phone and as a nervous habit, she rubbed her thumb and forefinger together in a circle – as my mother often did. Her apartment was sparsely furnished and she gave me the grand tour. The tour seemed to fill the space that existed between us. She showed me a china doll that she had kept through the years. It had a broken face and I remembered my mother telling me about a Christmas when she received a doll just like this and her older brother had broken the face. I wanted to ask if this was my mother’s doll.

Just as much as I wanted to ask her questions about her life and my mother, she tried to avoid the conversation. I wasn’t visiting to get a complete story from her, but, in the depth of my soul, I wanted to know why she left or really how she could leave. What was going on in her life to cause her to leave my mother and her family? But the question hung silently in the room unasked.

When it was time to leave, Ruby asked me if I would like to meet someone very special to her. She seemed hesitant to ask, but I could tell it was her intent from start. She called and invited her friend to her apartment to meet us. He was an older black gentleman who clearly had feelings for my grandmother. He treated her very kindly and he was nervous about being accepted. My son Scott helped us all get through the nervousness. He entertained us and helped us laugh together. We left a few minutes later and as I hugged her, I was fairly certain that it would be the last time I would ever see her. I left with the memories of a pleasant visit – what remained were the answers to all the questions.

We sent each other several letters after that. She died 2 years later on my birthday. My uncle called me to tell me that she was gone. My grandmother left instructions for him to call me after she died.

Life is sometimes an unanswered question. But I know why families are created with all their imperfections.  It humanizes us. As it says in 1 Corinthians 13:2, “If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.” In my way, I suppose I loved this grandmother that I never really knew.

———————–

Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime. Call us to scan your heirloom photos or to preserve your videos. 512-263-0546

  • VHS or reels to DVD
  • Scan your photos or slides
  • Preserve your Memories.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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Our basement was an integral part of my childhood.  It was the place in our home that I could get away from everyone and experience solitude. It was my time in my childhood to figure out who I was as a person with some genuine thinking and reflection. It was also a place to have some fun with my friends. Our house an old farm house, was only about 1200 square feet and was built by a woman in the 1920s. The rooms were small and crowded – especially with 4 other siblings. I shared a room with all my sisters. We had a bunk bed with a trundle bed under it. The closet was only 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep – hardly enough room for all of our clothing and toys. Our house had one bathroom and it the size of a closet. The living room and kitchen were filled with the busy lives of 7 people. And while we had many fun times in our house with my family, (See: Twinkle of His Eye ), at times I needed to be alone. The basement was my refuge.

Slide scanning austin

My house on a hill

The piano that I learned to play was an upright piano, and it was located in our basement. I spent many hours playing the songs of the day. My favorites were songs by Hermit’s Hermits, Paul Simon, Jim Croce, Sebastian Bach, Rachmaninoff, and many Beatles songs. When I went downstairs to play the piano, I was alone and I could escape there for hours. The basement wasn’t heated, in fact it was ice-cold and my fingers weren’t very nimble. But I would warm them up on scales and arpeggios. And I wasn’t always totally alone. The mice and rats would sometimes be awaiting my performance. I went downstairs with the same mantra – which my Mom and Dad would mimic – “Get Mouse! Get Mouse.” The critters would scatter and then come back out after I started playing. It was a trade-off. I could find solitude in that basement, even if I had to share it with the basement creatures.

When my brother was in high school, we turned one of the rooms downstairs into a rec room. My Dad placed paneling on the walls and we painted the floor with a brick-red color. My Dad put a ping-pong table in that room, added an old sofa  and we now had a place to entertain our friends. I became quite good at ping-pong since this was the only place in my home to take my friends.

Slide scan austin

My House on a hill - the Basement Side Exposed

My first kiss was in the basement after a ping-pong match. I won that match with Danny – and when changing ends of the ping-pong table, we met in the middle and kissed. The next time my boyfriend came over to play, I also won the match. But this time we met in the middle, and my boyfriend broke up with me. I had several slumber parties in high school in the basement. We turned the other rooms downstairs into a haunted house, complete with spider webs and hanging ghosts. It was inherently spooky in our basement with several dark rooms, so we didn’t need to do much to create the atmosphere.  I imagine that basement is still haunted with shrieks  of laughter and fright from teen-age girls.

The basement was not just mine. My Dad used the basement for his many foodie experiments (See: Schlumgolian ). The heavy crocks downstairs held the ingredients for the homemade sauerkraut made from our garden cabbage or ground home-grown horseradish. It was cool down there and the food from the garden stayed fresh for months.  We had  a freezer downstairs that held our side of beef that was purchased from the neighbor farmer – as well as my Dad’s stash of cash. My Dad set up a wine-making rig for making dandelion wine. After several months,  we tasted – and spit out – the new wine. It was awful!! We had a fruit cellar in the back room of the basement and had rows of canned vegetables in mason jars. We wrapped apples in newspaper and kept them in the fruit cellar for extra months of “fresh” apples. My sisters and I hated being asked to retrieve a canned good from the cellar. It was the darkest room in the basement with only one naked light bulb. We knocked down spider webs and avoided mouse traps to find the appropriate Mason jar there.

When I think of my childhood home and my memories there, I loved the boisterous kitchen and living room, the rooms where I mostly interacted with my family. But I also loved the basement. It’s where I could go to take care of my soul and find whispers of truth. It was the space where I felt least alone.

Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime. Call us to scan your heirloom photos or to preserve your videos. 512-263-0546

  • VHS or reels to DVD
  • Scan your photos or slides
  • Preserve your Memories.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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For a family that didn’t have much money (See My Dad – the Original Organic Farmer ), we sure did have fun on Saturday nights. Friday nights were taken up with football or basketball (See Football Boogie ). Saturday nights were reserved for playing cards or board games, sometimes with just our family, my aunt and uncle, or family friends. Before I was 9, I learned the game of Pinochle and the special set of rules that my family played by. I don’t think it was an option NOT to play – but I enjoyed the shenanigans so I never tested what would happen if I didn’t want to join the game.

Photo Scan Austin

Getting Ready for the Card Game

On Saturday nights, my parents either played cards with my Aunt Mid and Uncle Jim or Don and Jean Shulaw. They took turns going to each other’s houses and my brother and sisters enjoyed it wherever the games took place. Now, to be exact, the kids were not invited to play when we got together with another family. Occasionally however, I would be asked to come to the table and “take a hand” so that the host could get the food ready to serve, or tend to one of the kid emergencies. It was there I learned most of my first cuss words and slightly off-color jokes. I observed not only the game of Pinochle, but how my parents acted a bit differently when around their friends. If my Dad wasn’t getting good cards that night, he would declare the cards were sticking together. He would get up and go get the baby powder to coat the cards to make them shuffle smoother. My Aunt would often get upset at the teasing at the card table and throw down the cards in a huff. I heard “Dammit Fred” so often I thought my Dad had two first names. Almost always – though it wasn’t a sure bet –  they were all laughing again by the end of the night.

slide Scanning Austin

Mom & Dad's Favorite Card Partners

While our parents were otherwise occupied, we could play at will and with slightly less supervision. Mom didn’t seem to care if we messed the house up a little more. My sisters and I built tents with sheets and blankets with our cousins or played basketball outside in the dark. To this day, I am a very good shot at basketball and it’s because I played  “H-O-R-S-E” for hours with my cousin Brian on those card-playing nights. Sometimes it was so dark out that he’d throw me the ball and it would hit my face because I couldn’t see it. We also played outside barefoot, engaging in hide and seek and freeze-tag well into the night. My parents would stop their game long enough to make sure that we washed our very dirty feet before we came back into the house. They returned to their cards and we returned to our cousins. There was no set bedtime on those nights.

One of the best things about having company over to play cards was the food that came with the get-together. We were never allowed to have snacks or soda pop otherwise. But if cards were involved, we could have Pepsi or root beer, accompanied by potato chips and home-made onion dip. Mom would make her orange jello with pineapple dessert topped with cream cheese and marshmallows. I still sometimes savor the taste of Pepsi on ice in a tall Tupperware cup. As the bubbles explode when I drink it, I have flashbacks of the memories of those game nights.

scan photo austin

My boyfriend

When I was in high-school, it was easy for me to bring my boyfriend to my house (See One Sure Thing) and have him join in our family card game.  There was a structure already in place that he could slide into that eased him into being a part of our family. He endured my Dad’s teasing about how inept his card-playing was. That was Paul’s initiation into my family and he passed the test. My father was endeared to him when Paul declared the cards were sticking together and jumped up to get the powder to coat the cards. Finally, someone understood my father and his solution to unlucky cards.

We varied the games through the years. We added a marble game called Aggravation, we became experts at Euchre, or we played a game called Shanghai. This game was a form of rummy that required differing combinations of sets and runs.  The game itself wasn’t the important thing. What mattered was just getting around the table engaging each other in some sort of activity. We just really wanted to be together. They say you must accept the cards that life deals you. I was dealt a very blessed childhood.

Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime. Call us to scan your heirloom photos or to preserve your videos. 512-263-0546

  • VHS or reels to DVD
  • Scan your photos or slides
  • Preserve your Memories.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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My Mother told some stories that were just a bit difficult to believe. Now, I’m not saying that she was fibbing or anything. They are, certainly, her stories and her history. I’m just saying that they seemed a bit far-fetched. Several years before my mother died, my sisters and I persuaded our mother to travel with us to Tennessee. We wanted to hear the stories that she told in the environment that she grew up in. We wanted her to point out where her houses used to be, where her father’s schoolhouse was located, and mostly we wanted to re-live her childhood years with her. What an adventure for us all.

The Creek

The House by the Creek

We had always heard about the creek that ran behind my mother’s house when she was growing up. We knew my Mom was terrified of  bodies of  water. She reasoned to us that when she was 4-5 years old, the creek behind her house flooded.   Her Dad couldn’t swim and her brothers Warren and Bill had to break the pigs out of their pen.   The next morning, the water ran very swift between their house and their neighbor Nan’s.   Warren swam across the swift water, got Nan’s horse, and rode everyone across to eat. It was necessary to get to Nan’s house since she fed the family after my Mom’s mother took off with another man and robbed a train (See: Living on the Edge ). They would have a big breakfast at Nan’s and then she would pack their lunches — sandwich of cold biscuit and cold meat or pinto beans and cornbread.

When we traveled to the site of this infamous story with my mother, my 3 sisters and I could see where her house had stood and couldn’t see a creek or river of any sort. We questioned our mother about her version of the story and perhaps the creek was only a few inches deep (but probably seemed deep to a 4 year old), it started to rain. The rain  flashed off the mountain and filled the ditch behind the homestead in a hurry. Perhaps there was merit to her story after all.

Rufus

The SchoolHouse

While we were standing there at her old home site, she pointed up the road where the one-room schoolhouse used to be where her father taught (See: Campbell Mountain). It was a gravel road and the road was named “Campbell Road” after her father in honor of  his years of teaching at this school. My mother started relaying the story about going to school with her father when she was four years old. There wasn’t any childcare at her home since her mother moved out. The desks in the schoolhouse were 2-person desks but she had her own desk and her own schoolwork to do. That is, unless one of the older students misbehaved. In that case, the misbehaving student was moved to the empty seat at my mother’s desk. Rufus, it seemed, occupied her desk as often as he did his own. And when Rufus was at my mother’s desk, he tormented her relentlessly. My mother got in trouble then for the commotion that was caused.

She told us this story and she was getting intense in the re-telling. Her arms were flailing as she was standing on the side of the road with us. And as she spoke, an old model Ford – perhaps a 1955 – drove slowly down the mountain on the stone road. This car slowed down and peered cautiously at this group of women  – my sisters, Mom, and I – by the side of the road. He said, “Mary?”. My mother remarked back, “Rufus?”. We couldn’t believe that Rufus, the tormentor was there in person. It must have been a set-up, we thought. Again, she proved that this story indeed was historically correct.

Wearing Bibbed Overalls

Mary Jean in a Skirt

My mother was the youngest child in her family, with 4 older brothers. During the Depression, she told the story about never having a dress to wear. Instead, she wore hand-me-down bibbed overalls from her 4 older brothers. According to her tales, she was 13 before she owned a dress. The week that mother died, her older brother came to spend some time with her and with us. As my mother slept, I asked my Uncle about this particular story. He said that it wasn’t the same memory that he had. My mother had twin cousins who were 2 years older than she was and they had some money in their family. They donated their dresses to my mother throughout her childhood. He said that my mother was a tomboy and that she refused to wear the dresses that were given to her. I later found a photo of my mother when she was 8 years old. And she was wearing a dress and leggings.

As Frank Delaney says in Tipperary “Memory is a canvas – stretched, primed, and ready for painting on. We love the ’story’ part of the word ‘history,’ and we love it trimmed out with color and drama, ribbons, and bows. We always decorate our essence.” My Mom was entitled to the ‘story’ part her family ‘history’.

Picture This! will help you create the gift of a lifetime.

  • VHS or reels to DVD
  • Scan your photos or slides
  • Preserve your Memories.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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It was Scottish tradition that when the patriarch died in an Scottish family, the oldest son inherited all the land and the others received nothing. And, as luck would have it, my Scottish ancestor was not the oldest. My great-great-grandfather left Virginia and moved to the Appalachian mountains with his family. The mountains of Tennessee reminded the Scottish people of their native land. They set up their homesteads despite the rugged terrain of the land.

Campbell Mountain

My great-great-grandfather was given a land grant in 1830 of 250 acres and my great-grandfather was given a total of 1200 acres, perhaps for in return for their Revolutionary War service. This area is known  as Campbell Mountain.

1830 is right after the treaty with the Cherokee to move them to Oklahoma, and 10 years after Daniel Boone roamed the area. Davy Crockett moved from Tennessee in 1834, after being defeated in his seat for the US representatives. He disagreed with President Andrew Jackson about the Indian Removal Act and angrily left for Texas. Jamestown, Tennessee, a mountain town, was established in 1828.

Timothy's birthplace

My grandfather Timothy grew up in a house in a valley next to Campbell Mountain close to a mountain spring. Farming was his family’s livelihood. He stayed on the mountain after he grew up and became a vital part of the community. My grandfather helped with the family farm, but also was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse.  He stayed there until he and his brother lost the land during the depression. (See: Living on the Edge ) He started a grocery store in a building next to their house. Timothy worked as the Justice of the Peace — he had trials and received no salary.   He was able to keep a percentage of the commission from  the fines and fees collected.

Justice of the Peace Decree

My mother grew up on this Campbell Mountain in eastern Tennessee. It was Appalachia, not only in geographic location, but in extreme poverty and way of life.  Not one thing was easy for my mother living in this part of the country. We heard as children about walking to school in the snow barefoot. But it wasn’t until we returned to the area with her that we realized that this was exactly how she got around the mountain and traveled to school. It was not exagerated. We had more respect for her when we realized that it was also uphill all the way.

Because my grandmother left her family (See: Archiving Photos and Videos AND Telling the Story ), my mother was in charge of the household and did the family laundry in the nearby spring, cooked dinner over the wood stove, and read at night by kerosene. My uncles who were older than my mother, ran moonshine through the mountains during prohibition. They knew the mountains better than the revenuers and were able to outwit them. This area of Tennessee didn’t have electricity or running water until after World War II in the late 1940s.

My mother left this area for college, but returned  after graduating from Martin Teacher’s college in 1941. She taught at a nearby school in  a mining community called Stockton, teaching all 8 grades and 72 kids in a one-room schoolhouse.   Many of the students were older than she was and disobedient.  She stayed there 2 months.   Her brother had taught there and had carried a gun back and forth to school with him after being by a parent there.

Her father lived 3 miles  out-of-town, and was  teaching at neighboring Round Mountain, at the same time my mother taught in Stockton 8 miles away.  There was a corduroy road in between the two towns and the logs broke in the road and the car fell in. During the war, tires were scarce and my mother drove down the mountain on the rims. The stick shift came off into her hand while she was driving down the mountain and panicked about how continue her travels. It was treacherous traveling around the mountains.

It was also treacherous living there. In 1955, my grandfather died at the age of 68. He returned to his homeplace on the foothills of Campbell Mountain in the Campbell family cemetery. Buried next to him is my mother’s sister-in-law – her best  friend – who died in childbirth delivering her 7th child at home on Mother’s Day 1953. Her baby girl also died and lays at her side. And next to her is her husband – my mother’s brother – who when burdened with the remaining 6 children and a problem with alcohol, died of a broken heart one year later.

For those who are born in the  mountains, the struggle can never end until their lives end.  For the ones who manage to survive, a feisty zest for life remains after the lesser parts are scraped away.

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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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