My mother and her twin brother will turn 94 in about three weeks. The way people live have changed so much in those 94 years that it is a wonder their heads aren’t spinning. Children today know so little about what life used to be like. They are so caught up with today’s gadgets and latest toys that it is probably harder for them to imagine what it was like 94 years ago than it is for my mom and uncle to understand today’s fast-moving culture.
I believe it is important to preserve the memory of what it was like for our ancestors. People have always found ways to preserve memories of days gone by. My mother kept wonderful scrapbooks in her younger days that were made on heavy black paper pages. Using white ink, she took great care to write in information to identify the people in the pictures. But over time some of the pictures fell out, and her enthusiasm waned for keeping up the ritual.
I too kept picture albums with great care. The pictures were all dated and numbered. We had a separate three ring binder that held notebook paper with little comments to go with each of the pictures. Most of the albums were made with cardboard pages that had a rubber-cement-like glue to hold the pictures in place and a plastic sheet that covered them all. But the glue eventually became weak and the pictures fell out. All of the time spent organizing the pictures went for nothing.
I haven’t gotten into the fancy scrapbook making craze that has been so popular in more recent years. I think that these scrapbooks are nice, but there is a lot of work and expense to create a single copy.
Many have taken advantage of new ways to make picture book albums using digital pictures and computer software in photo printing machines in stores. These are nice, quick, and easy, but there is little room, if any, for writing comments to go with the pictures.
Thanks to modern day technology plus some special websites available to us today, I have found a much better approach to keeping up with family memories. I like to make memory books that can hold both pictures and stories.
I started making memory books with a little book I made for a two-year-old granddaughter. The book was called “Meet Jessica.” This book was made on my computer using MS Publisher software. I put a picture on every page with a simple sentence telling about the picture. It included pictures of Jessica’s parents, grandparents, her extra set of grafted-in grandparents (my husband and me), her house, bedroom, yard, and cat. Jessica would be able to read this book herself when she was older.
I made a more serious memory book for my father shortly after his 90th birthday entitled This Is Your Life: Paul E. Ducker. Later with the help of my cousins we made another book for my mother and her twin brother and presented them with their first nearly-complete copies for their 90th birthday celebration. These books are chock full of little slice of life stories, memories, and pictures. Many of our relatives ordered copies of this book as keepsakes. You may see these books at this link on Lulu.com.
There are many kinds of memory books that can be written. They may feature a person at any age, a day’s outing or a family vacation or trip. This past week I started writing a four-generation book about playtime featuring the females from each generation. In this book are my mother, myself, my daughter, and my granddaughter. A rough draft of this book can be seen here on a free website. I still don’t have as many pictures in it as I want, but I can still add them as I find them. I hope to complete this book before Mom’s birthday in early June. I have avoided using full names and birth dates because I am posting it here in a public place. If you make a similar book for your family, keep your link private and include more complete information. (Note: This link appears to work better using Google Chrome for your browser. The book should look like a book on your screen with pages that turn.)
I hope this blog post and my new Playtime book will inspire families to create their own family memory books. There are several online websites that will produce print-on-demand books like these. My paperback books have all been created on www.Lulu.com, but there are newer websites that have sprung up more recently. I will try to add more links to this blog post in comments later. Perhaps some of my readers can share a few as well. My time is running out and I’m way over my preferred word count for this blog post.