Old Home Movies Treasured History

Have you ever been to a holiday gathering, and Uncle Bob is always pestering you to get in the picture. “Everybody scoot closer. Everybody say cheese. Now let’s get one with just you kids and Grandma.” And on and on. And you think, oh brother, this is such a pain. But someday, like me, you’ll be very thankful for the memories and for the history of your family.

For years, my garage has been filled with plastic storage bins filled with old reels of tapes and slides, useless to me. My dad loved taking pictures and even developed his own film. Then when he got a movie camera, he took everything from the dog walking across the yard to my dance recitals. But what to do with all these slides and old movies now that both parents are gone? I bit the bullet and took them to a professional familiographer, had 2 copies of the 5-12 hours of “viewing pleasure” copied onto 2 sets of 3 DVD’s, and presented them to my son and daughter on Thanksgiving Day. They were an early Christmas present, and I wanted them to be able to watch them together, helping each other recall who that was in the background holding the baby and which kid that was just learning to walk. Of course they didn’t have time to sit there and watch every minute, but it was a thrill for me to hear their smiles as they saw their grandpa standing in front of his new car in 1959. Here was our family history on film that we didn’t even know we had.

It was a bit of a challenge getting this done. I started by asking friends to go through the slides, of which there were hundreds. “hold them up to the light,” I would say, “and if you don’t see a person in the picture, then throw it away.” For the most part, that plan worked, but one picture, which did not have a person in it was saved anyway, and I was so glad. It was a picture of the little house my grandmother lived in, complete with the outhouse, which has long since been torn down and replaced by landscaping and a pond. My kids actually remember that little old house, so it was truly a trip down memory lane. I’m sure no one at the time considered these pictures would be cherished 50 years later, but there we were, drawn a little closer by old and new technology combined. There was a picture of my forty-year-old mother driving the boat that my dad was so proud of and many pictures of the Dalmatians that I adored as a child. My granddaughters could see that once upon a time, I too was a pretty young girl in a long tutu, getting ready for a recital.

I must admit that because of the expense involved, I worried that I would be the only one who thought it was worth it, but my kids did not disappoint me. They truly do appreciate having our family history in a modern day format. I am so grateful for all those times my dad trotted out his camera. It was fun for him, a hobby. But for us, it’s a treasure.

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Someone Told Me to Believe

This is one of those thought provoking prompts that we did at our TTN writers group the other night. What would you say if someone said, “Finish this sentence. Someone told me to believe…”? Here is what I wrote.

Someone told me to believe by teaching me to believe. I was taught to believe that my day started with making up my bed. I was taught to believe that keeping my belongings in order and accounted for would keep my life in order. I was taught to believe in the power of making lists and marking them off as they were accomplished. I was taught to believe that telling the truth was the best in the long run, but a little white lie was called for in certain circumstances. I was taught to believe in the goodness of God and the love of Jesus Christ. I was told to believe that almost all dogs would love me, because they could tell that I loved them. I was told to believe in the value of work before pleasure. I was told to believe in the magic of yeast, that it does indeed turn flour and water into bread. I was told to believe in Heaven. I was told to believe in Santa Claus and then to believe that Santa Claus, like God, was in all of us. I was told that eating vegetables was much better for me than eating chocolate. I was told to believe that going to sleep on a problem would help solve it the next day. I was taught to say I’m sorry, and to mean it. Someone told me to believe in all these truths, but it is my choice to believe in some and not in others. As we mature and age, some our beliefs grow and age with us, and some betray us. This last is what I believe.

Thank You For Your Service

“Thank you for your service.” It’s a sentiment our veterans are hearing a lot today. But this was not always the greeting they got on returning home. Thanks to a national program called Honor Flights, my friend Bob, 92, received it all day long one day this past April. He had heard about these flights to Washington, D.C., for WW2 vets, but he kept saying no thank-you. His granddaughter had other ideas. One day, she showed up at his assisted living apartment and informed him that in one month, he would be going on a very special trip. When he finally guessed that it was the Honor /flight, she added that not only was he going, but she was to be his personal guardian, which deeply touched him. Each veteran who goes is accompanied by a volunteer helper for the entire day.

They arrived at the Columbus airport at 4:45 a.m. As they pulled up to the curb, 5 men in yellow shirts opened the doors, extended their hands and said, “thank you for your service Sir.” Then they helped him into a wheelchair and whisked him into the airport. Bob was expecting a very quiet and empty airport at that time of the morning, but there were people everywhere, bustling around, serving snacks and coffee to the 70 vets, and organizing which vets would be riding which busses From the Baltimore airport into D.C.

First, they flew to Baltimore, where they were greeted with marching cadets and a military band, along with cheering people who just happened to be at the airport that day. Once they were carefully and efficiently assisted onto the 3 busses, they had police escorts both in front and behind For the 30-mile ride into D.C. All other traffic was stopped in respect. The day was filled with visiting one memorial after another. At all times, they were treated with kindness and dignity, and Bob heard “thank you for your service” a thousand times that day. Their plane returned to Columbus at 9:15, and again, Bob expected to just get off the plane and get home to bed after an exhausting but wonderful day. But the fun wasn’t over. As soon as they all got through the arrival gate and turned a corner, a huge cheer went up, and the High School band played for 2 hours. “there must have been 400 people there,” Bob said with pride. Each vet’s name and rank was announced over a loud speaker as he went through a receiving line of well-wishers and grateful grownups and children alike. Bob told me that one man there had 4 purple hearts. I’d say it’s about time these men and women were thanked for their valor, their courage, and their sacrifices. These Honor Flights were created by volunteers for World War 2 veterans, but veterans from other wars and conflicts are now being honored as well.

It was obvious that Bob enjoyed sharing his story with me. He played the video of the home-coming, so I could hear the cheers of the crowd and the patriotic music of the band. This was actually my second visit with Bob. The first time, we talked about his military service, what his jobs were, what life was like back then, and we never got around to the Honor Flight, so I promised to come back, which I did today. I’ll be back for more visits, because I think there are a lot more stories this 92-year-old soldier has to tell. My dad served in WW 2, but like most men who did, he never talked about it. Of course I was too young to be interested or to care. Now I do care, and to my dad and all the others who are gone now, we thank you for your service.

Cheers

Remember the opening song of the TV show Cheers, where “Everybody knows your name?” I wasn’t in Cheers today, but it seemed that way as I went from one activity to another.

My day started with swimming, where everybody there knows my name. It’s an hour and a half program on Tuesdays and Thursdays when the pool is closed to the public, but open for those of us who have a disability. Fortunately for me, not many people take advantage of this program, and I always have a lane to myself, so I can do laps and exercises. It feels good to be greeted by name, even though I require very little help, once I’m there. I get there by way of the American Red Cross transportation service. When my driver came to pick me up there, he had with him a man who is in training to be a volunteer driver. He greeted me by name. He told me he knew me from when he was a volunteer at the radio reading service. Sadly, I did not recognize his name, but he didn’t seem insulted, thank Goodness. Instead of taking me home, they dropped me off at the church where I vote. As soon as I walked into the voting room, I was greeted by Monique, who now volunteers there. She used to sell me Weekenders clothing. She got me set up on a machine that was equipped with voice output, so I could vote independently and privately. Just as I was finishing up and gathering my stuff in preparation for walking home, here came another lady who also knew my name. She said she was Jackie, who used to sell me Avon, and she still lives in my neighborhood. She offered me a ride home. Since I had already walked Dora and had had a good workout at the pool, I was grateful for the ride, but even more grateful that I felt like a home town celebrity, where it seemed that everybody knows my name. I guess I should sign off this way.

Cheers!