Thursday, December 19, 2013
As more and more people write their letters as emails or texts and store their photographs in the Cloud or send them to Facebook, the easy disposability of these communication and storage methods makes it more and more likely that records of our family history may not survive for future generations, at least in an accessible form. My own life so far has spanned the development of home photography from a few grainy black & white pictures to brilliant color displays of portraits or candid shots snapped every few minutes and videos taken on an iPhone or iPad and uploaded to YouTube for wide dissemination. My granddaughters have been smiling for the camera since infancy and are well accustomed to performing in eight-second bytes to a favorite song for a music video. When the older one posed in mini-bridal dress for her First Communion photo a year or so ago, I wondered if she experienced it as fundamentally different from dressing up as a Disney Cinderella in blue ball gown and glass slippers at the age of three.
I treasure the few photos I have of my grandparents and the single tattered portraits of their parents that they carried with them to the New World in the early years of the twentieth century. In those days, goodbye was goodbye: not only no Skype or email, but no phone or airmail to carry letters. Crossing the Atlantic to America was a one-time voyage for them and for my parents, both young children at the time. So my mom and dad grew up without grandparents and with only limited access to their family history.
I knew only two of my own grandparents, my mother's mother and my father's father. Here's what I remember or was told about their lives.