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Posts Tagged ‘Preserve your Heirlooms’

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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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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When I was a child, New Year’s Eve was the second best day of the year. Christmas day comes first, of course.  We anticipated New Year’s Eve with almost as much enthusiasm. My parents were married on New Year’s Eve, and every December 31st we celebrated their anniversary as a family.

Scan Photo Slides

Mom and Dad on their wedding day - December 31

Beginning in the morning of the last day of each year, my father would start by telling his version of their courting years and the day they got married. My mother had her version of stories as well and it seemed like the only story they had in common about that day was that it was very cold outside. As they waited outside the Justice of the Peace’s office in Valpraiso, Indiana, a snowstorm blew through and my father offered his coat to my mother and then wrapped his arms around her to keep her warm.

My Mom had a son before my parents were married. They dropped him off at a sitter’s house and then drove to Indiana to get married. There was no waiting period for a marriage license there. My father was a man who pinched pennies and it occurred to him that if he married my mother the last day of the year, he could get a great tax deduction. Because my mother had a child, it was a double bonus for that tax year. He did not marry my Mom because of the savings, but he did marry her the 31st of December instead of in January to take advantage of the tax situation. It was a running joke throughout their marriage about my father’s great deal.

Preserve Family History

Family Photo after Wedding

My parents were 33 and 32 when they married. They met at a diner where my Mom was a waitress. She worked there during an economic slump at the factory (see: Living on the Edge ). My father would come into the restaurant to eat, but after a while he dropped by just to see my Mom. During their courtship, Dad would go to her house after she got off work and visit with her and her son. Later, because my Mom had a child and couldn’t afford a sitter, my Dad would leave and go out on the town with his friends. It bothered my Mom that he left her to go out with his friends – instead of staying for the whole evening. They argued about it and when he left, she told him “not to let the doorknob hit him in the a**”.  After she refused to see him unless he fully committed to their relationship, a few weeks later they decided to elope.  And my father adopted my mother’s 4 year-old son. My father re-told the story about the doorknob throughout the years. He admired my Mom’s spunk and his eyes twinkled when he told this story.

New Year’s Eve was the only day of the year that our family went out to dinner. It was quite a gift from my father to agree to the extra expense. (see: My Dad – the Original Organic Gardener ) His treat for my mother to spare her one day a year from cooking dinner. We usually went to a restaurant called FAYLI. It was a diner that was near a highway in town and was often frequented by truckers. We found out later that it stood for “Food As You Like It.”  They had a large booth in the corner and all 7 of us could fit in there. We were allowed to order what we wanted. Every year, my mother ordered chopped beef  with mashed potatoes and gravy. I remember that each of us kids would order a cheeseburger, fries, and a milkshake. My Dad would order whatever they had on the special menu varying from liver and onions to corned beef and cabbage. He interacted with the waitress, telling her the reason for our dinner and we would often get extra cherries in our milkshakes or a free dessert. My mother was unusually giddy at these dinners and I remember much laughter and more courtship stories coming from our corner booth.

Preserve Family Story

My parents on their 25th Anniversary

After dinner, we would return to our house and my Mom and Dad would have a cocktail – usually Seagrams and Pepsi. My parents never drank and it fascinated us to see them drink alcoholic beverages on New Year’s Eve. We also never had soft drinks at our house, let alone potato chips and other snacks. This one time a year though, they splurged and we had our chips with homemade potato chip dip, and  as many soft drinks as we wanted. They brought out the Tupperware tall plastic glasses that were used only when company came and we put ice and Pepsi in them. I still enjoy a soft drink out of a Tupperware glass as it brings back memories for me. Sometimes their friends would come over to our house and they played pinochle at the dining room table while the kids watched TV or listened to our records on the turntable. Other times, when their friends didn’t come, we would play our favorite marble game called Aggravation with all of the kids old enough to play.  Because my Mom only drank once a year, she would often fall asleep on the sofa for a short time during the evening after her two cocktails. I don’t remember watching the ball drop on Times Square on TV, but I do remember watching my parents kiss at midnight. They weren’t usually publically affectionate, so any physical interaction was memorable.

New Year’s Eve was a special day at our house. When I think about details about that day in my family, it reminds me of an episode of “Leave It to Beaver” which always had a happy ending. I love that my parents celebrated this day with us and took the time – and money – to make it so special for all of us. I play my own black-and-white memory video in my mind of my happy childhood and episode one is a typical New Year’s Eve day with my family.

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

Picture This! http://www.picturethisaustin.com

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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Ruby and Tim before my mother was born.

Ruby and Tim before my mother was born.

My mother at 6 months old - just weeks before the train robbery.

My mother at 6 months old - just weeks before the train robbery.

As the story goes, my grandmother robbed a train. My grandfather found out that she had a boyfriend and told her that she needed to leave town. She was a mother of four – youngest child was six months old. So off she went with the boyfriend and the nursing baby (my mother). She was on her way out of town and she helped rob a train. She was convicted and sentenced for 4 years and my mother was put in an orphanage.

The mountains of Tennessee had no phone and little outside communication in 1924, so it took six months for my grandfather to hear of the news. He found out where the orphanage was that housed my mother, and traveled with his sister to help with the baby and the boys. My grandfather Tim Campbell taught in a one-room schoolhouse and raised these children through the Depression all on his own.

My mom called her mother “Ruby” and had little communication with her in her life. I only saw my grandmother two times before she died. I met her when I was in eighth grade and then went to her apartment in Washington, D.C. when I was 25 to visit with her a second time.

I wanted to ask two questions: 1) How do you rob a train really? and 2) How could you leave your children behind?

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

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

Picture This! http://www.picturethisaustin.com

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Read Full Post »