Every year my family puts out a calendar. When there are fifteen children and forty-plus grandchildren, and 10 great grand children, there are a lot of birthdays and anniversaries to keep track of.
Since I moved back here to Maryland, I've been helping with the calendar–taking over the picture-collecting and sorting, and laying out each month's photo pages. It never fails, no matter how many "cushion months" I give myself on the previous year's calendar, I find myself scrambling at the last minute to get it done. It's a lot of work, and my plate is full, but I don't have the heart to give it up or let it slide.
This winter, when I was putting something away for my grandmother in a back closet, I found a big box of slides hiding on a top shelf, boxes with faded labels and years scribbled on the sides. Weddings. Parties. Hand-raised owls and hawks. Big snow storms. Peacocks. Lambs and Jersey milk cows.
Last night, after everyone was in bed, I sat down at the dining room table, turned down the lights and clicked on the fan and bulb of my grandmother's old silver slide projector. I sat with the box of slides and told myself I'd just try to go through two or three boxes and see if there were any good pictures I could put in this year's calendar.
A few hours later, I found myself sitting among stacks of small, banded paper boxes, hard plastic cases and carousels and the original box, empty. I went through each slide, all the way to the bottom of the box.
I sorted, tried to make out faces, noticed how much someone's children look exactly like they did, when they were that age. Marveled at my grandmother, poolside–a handful of kids splashing in the water, a few toddlers watching from wooden playpens in the grass. Children spread around long wooden tables covered in newspaper on the patio, dipping eggs into colored water. Girls bareback on horses. Weddings on the front lawn with green tents, bright yellow table cloths and daisies. Volkswagen buses and BB guns.
Those boxes are full of family stories. Most I don't know. A few I do, but only because some things just don't seem to change. But because I'm a part of this family, I guess it does make it part of my history as well.
And somehow, I going to find a way to save these bits of our family's story before I box them back up and slide them into the top shelf of that closet.
17 comments on “family stories”
Oh how I love the mystery of family slides! A lost treasure in this digital age!
molly, gary has used a tripod to photograph some of our slides. I think all you need is a good screen. Then maybe slurp them into book form with one of those online-digital picture book maker companies. xo and have fun!
I love family histoy stuff like that. There are scanners out there that will scan slides, or you can send them to a company like PhotoMax and have them scan them all in for you.
How wonderful! I remember swimming in the pool when I was little! 🙂
My SIL did that and put all the slides on a disk and made them digital. I will shoot her an e-mail and find out how she did it.
What a wonderful post! I need to get our slides from my mom and dad. I don’t think my boys have seen them yet!
what an incredible treasure!next time i come visit, i want to go to the big house, ok?
I’ve inherited boxes of slides as well. You’ve inspired me to try to track down a slide projector to discover some of those stories…
My entire childhood is immortalized on slides. My Dad must have over twenty boxes with slide carousels filled with pictures of my older sister and I. Even though he’s very high-tech these days, he still put an old-fashioned slide show of baby pics together for our wedding showers and baby showers. As I read your post it sent me back… I could almost smell the hot projector and hear the tell-tale clicks as the slides change.
I have all the slides my father took in the 60’s and early 70’s and I love going through them. (most of my baby pictures are on slides) We just bought an Epson v350 scanner that easily scans slides so I’m trying to scan them to “digitalizes” them.
Very cool find Molly! My husband recently sorted through is large stash of slides and we’ve begun scanning them. The scanner we have has a slide scanning attachment. It allows you to scan several at a time and name them as individual files. It’s still time consuming, but cheaper than sending it out. Last winter, I picked up all my parents photos from the past 46 years. They were in boxes and bags and a few crumbling albums. I sorted them all and scanned about 100 photos, which I made into a bound book (I used Shutterfly, but there are lots of services). I gave the books out at Christmas time to my parents and siblings. My labor of love paid off. Everyone LOVED them! Plus, we now have some of my family’s most important photos as digital copies that we have backed up on CD. I guess I’m just saying that whatever you do with the slides, the time will be worth it. At a minimum, you’ll need to invite your grandmother over for a cup of tea and a slide show. Enjoy!
wow Molly! You weren’t kidding! That’s a load of slides! I have the Epson v350, would just need to find/get the slide attachment! so cool!
Treasure for sure.In this fast paced texting society…someone needs to document the history.Way to go Molly, your children and grandchildren will thank you!
I think I would have stayed up all night too! How fun.
My parents have boxes upon boxes of slides in their basement – most of my childhood is in those boxes. It would be nice to see them again!
Oh wow! Such a treasure 🙂
Sit down with your grandmother and have her identify the people you don’t know. You will be grateful one day for taking the time to label the slides. Otherwise, you will be left with boxes of nameless people from long ago.
molly. this is so beautiful. that you have the slides. that you got to look through all of them. such beautiful memories. i worry all the time about the stories i don’t know and how they’re going to disappear with my grandmother. i’m planning to take a video camera when i go to see her next. i’m crossing my fingers that it will work out.
Family slides/family stories. What a wonderful post. Actually made me cry a bit. My dad was still taking slides and putting on regular family slideshows until his death last year. I was always the one to help him set up the slideshows and and since his death I just can’t bring myself to even think about the slides although I know that I will return to them one day and it will be very meaningful. Just can’t do it yet. I miss him so much and those slideshows were such a special thing for our family. Re-telling old family stories, familiar images, new family events, family trips…those little squares filled with so much history.