Thursday, November 19, 2009

What I Wish I Knew . . .

Ali's Yesterday+Today class over at Big Picture Scrapbooking had inspired me to get busy scanning some of my older photos. These photos were inherited from my dad, and I no longer have the originals. I don't have many photos at all before I was born, so this rare glimpse into my family's life, even what few of them there are, are precious to me. Ali has been speaking to us about scrapbooking present layouts with a past perspective. That is, the types of things YOU wish you KNEW about the past . . . and with so little to go on, I have a lot of "what I'd like to knows."

The photo above is of my paternal great-great grandfather and his family. They were a Tennessee farming family with lots and lots of sons; 12 in fact. They owned their land and worked hard and I can not even imagine being the mother of 12 boys - especially knowing the realization that I only have two and can barely handle it. Other than knowing that my great-great grandfather was part Cherokee Indian, I know nothing else about their lives. I imagine theirs was like most farming lives I've read about in history books - a lot of hard labor and no real education, growing most of their food from the land and not making it to the general store very frequently (if there was even one close by) . . .

but I want to know about their relationships and personalities: were they all close? who was the trouble-maker and who was the mamas-boy? were there any close neighbors that they depended on for help when they needed it? How did the parents meet and were they in love or was it more out of obligation?

I want to know about their likes and dislikes: what were their favorite foods? was there a favorite tradition or story they enjoyed telling by the fire? folksongs? colors? what were they able to do in their freetime if all the chores were done?

I want to know abou their hopes and dreams: did any of them leave behind the farm one day and if so, where did they go, what did they want to do? just what were the dreams of men (and children) back in the 1800s?

I want to know about their daily routines: who did what chores? were there any boys that stayed to help grandma around the house since there were 12 of them?

and I want to know some of their history: what was the story of their parents - people I have no record of? were there any other children that had passed away prior to this photo being taken?

The above photo is of my aunt and her first husband, my Uncle Steve. I never had the honor of meeting him because he was decared MIA in the Vietnam War. What I do know is that my dad's family used to talk about the downward spiral my aunt took when he went missing, and once he was declared dead, how her life was forever changed, how she was forever changed. Now, I knew my aunt (granted, she passed away when I was in college and before I really truly got to know her as a person, not just my aunt), and it's just so hard to imagine the life she used to wish for and dream of as a newlywed. She always talked of Steve, long after he was gone . . . long after she had married two more times, only to have them end in divorce . . . long after a horrible bout with alcoholism. I knew my aunt the way she was after this life-changing event, but I'd love to know who she was before and apart from Steve. I'd love to know of their relationship; what my aunt loved to do outside of working (she was a nurse for many years); did she enjoy school; who were her friends. She was the oldest (and only daughter) of my paternal grandparents. I bet my daughter sure would love to know some survival tips too!

There are some other photos I have . . . more of the same questions come from them . . . the everyday life; the traditions; the personalities . . . I can only assume that this same information, this same connection, will be want my grandchildren and great-grandchildren will aslo want from me. This perspective will forever be in my mind when I scrapbook; and I will try and give this perspective - my perspective - it's rightful place in my scrapbooks, our family's scrapbooks . . . as I'm the only one who has access to my own memories.

A few tips when you're scanning your own photos:
  • scan at least at 300 dpi (you can scan higher, but it will take up more memory; also 300 dpi is the standard for digital scrapbooking)
  • enlarge as you're scanning. It will save your photos from pixilating the actual digital file later on. I will typically scan at 200% or enough to get me to an 8x10 size. It also makes it easier to crop down the photos.
  • be sure to have some way of notating what you've already scanned if you're replacing these photos back into their original album. Another option could be to have a seperate album for you to transfer scanned images to.
  • when importing into PSE, I change the date right then so that it goes to the earlier section of my catalog. I also tag them as heritage photos and whichever side of the family they're from; maybe also tag who the main people are in the photo too. I don't want these guys getting lost on my hard drive. If you don't know an exact date, PSE allows you to choose ?? as an option for any of the options (month, day, or year). I always will choose a year, and do a best guess on the month (Easter baskets mean March or April for example).


Anonymous said...

What a great post. What a super idea for the decades of pictures I've got that I know hardly anything about. Also love how you've used different size fonts in it.

Fun Mama - Deanna said...

You have a wonderful list here! I will have to keep your ideas in mind. I especially like the question about their relationship. I have often wondered the same things about my ancestors' family dynamics, especially since I believe that their past affects my present.

Angela said...

I loved this really thoughtful post April. I've left a little something for you on my blog if you want to have a little look! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi April, just stopping by as I link to your blog for the World Blog Hop! What great information you have, thanks for sharing!!

Ali said...

Hey April - I loved reading your past perspective :). Reading through this made me realize that what I hoped for people in this class was actually becoming real. Thank you.