Can You Picture It?

As I write this blog, I’m watching a TV show called Ancestors in the Attic where people have pictures or a document of a family member and they search to find out more about that person. Photos have a way of helping us to ‘picture’ what life might have been like for our ancestors (pardon the pun).

Recently my daughter and I watched a marathon of Downton Abbey movies, followed by a couple of movies from the Call the Midwife series. At the beginning of the movies, the year was given. As I watched the shows I also tried to picture what age my parents would have been at that time and what life might have been like for them during those years.

Growing up we had a clock that my father had bought, a clock that we had never seen anywhere else. I’m not sure what became of it and my sister and I have often talked about the clock with the girl swinging. I tried to remember exactly what it looked like, but could only remember the general look of it. Then one day while going through my photos, I found a picture of my brother and his wife at our house, and there in the background was the clock. Now with that picture I’ve been able to search the Internet and have found better pictures of the same type of clock.

Also in our childhood, we had a player piano at our house. A few years ago, while going to a museum with my sister and her grandchildren, we came across a player piano and she was able to tell them about the one we had, explaining something about how it worked.

At that same museum we came across some Watkins products and my sister and I had a moment reflecting on Mom using them and for a short time, selling them.

Sometimes when talking to my grandchildren about what life was like for me at their age, it’s hard for them to try to picture me sitting at a desk. But while visiting a museum a few years ago, I found desks that looked a lot like what I had when I first started school. So I took a picture of them and now I can actually show my grandchildren the type of desks we had ‘way back then’!

FamilyWhile looking through some old family photos, I came across one of my Mom with me and my siblings. Although I’d seen this picture many times before, this time I noticed something new. It looks like I (the baby) was wearing a dedication dress making me wonder if this photo was taken the day I was dedicated. Now I need to check with my siblings to see if they might remember. How I wish I had asked my Mom about it while she was still living!

So why am I sharing these stories with you? Because pictures have a way of bringing back memories and also of showing younger generations what life was like in our day. Life today is changing so fast and our grandchildren and great grandchildren will have no concept of what life was like for us unless we tell our story and share our pictures.

Here are just a few things you might like to try:

  • When cropping photos, leave in some of the background if it’s meaningful.
  • When visiting museums, take pictures of things that remind you of your background.
  • When trying to explain to your grandchildren about things that are no longer a part of life, look up pictures on the Internet and show them.
  • When going through your old photos, look at the details and try to figure out what they mean.
  • Include these pictures in your journals and write about their meaning to you.
  • When watching old-time movies, try to picture your ancestors’ lives during that time period.

Remember that old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and try to help your offspring ‘picture’ your life!