Providing practical, down-to-earth advice for family historians since 1995, online since 1985.

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Childhood Memories

Suppose you picked up a printed family history, or visited a family history website and it included ONLY names, dates and places. There would be:

  • no biographies
  • no source citations
  • no chronicles of family traditions

Talk about an antiseptic world!

Talk about an unbelievable compiled family history.

We need the facts, but... 

WE ALSO NEED OUR CHILDHOOD MEMORIES -- down there in black and white in notes for each person on our family tree because:

  • we knew them personally
  • our parents told us about them
  • our grandparents or other relatives told us about them
  • we found something written (obit, county history, military unit history) about them

This morning a friend wrote about a recipe he found for "APPLE CRISP." He mentioned that he had asked his Mother about it toward the end of her life, but her stove was broken, so they didn't press her for details. Now that she has gone, he wishes he had at least helped her make it, and then taken it home to his place to bake it. Isn't it interesting how childhood memories of food seem to rate high on our list of favorite things?

Why not write up a little story about something as seemingly insignificant as Mom's Apple Crisp?

DON'T YOU THINK STORIES LIKE THIS WOULD BE A DELIGHTFUL ADDITION TO YOUR COMPILED FAMILY HISTORY? Put the apple crisp story right there in notes for your Mom. Write a paragraph in your Dad's notes about his favorite things -- working on the boat, preparing for a bow hunting trip with the guys, a baseball game. (That reminds me, I am perhaps the only daughter who truly appreciated that her dad once gave her season tickets to the University of Washington Huskies football games for a Christmas present.) I should write about that, and how my dad took me to a few games (just the 2 of us) when I lived nearby as a young mother.

Funny how little recollections of one incident will lead to another, for instance:

I CANNOT BELIEVE MY PARENTS LET ME take the bus to the orthodontist by myself. We thought nothing of it in the early 1960s, quite different from life in 2005! I walked about 2 miles from our home at 4216 55th NE in Laurelhurst to the bus stop across the street from the Rexall (spelling?) Drugstore. Somehow I had been taught to get off at the right stop and walk another block or two to the ortho's office.

THAT STORY REMINDS ME HOW GUILTY I FEEL that I inadvertently stole a small 18 cent pink eraser from that drug store at about the same time. I was shopping for back-to-school items while mom sat under the hair dryer at the nearby beauty salon. I was probably in 4th or 5th grade. I was trying to juggle a fountain pen, a bottle of ink, a notebook and filer paper with a pack of pencils and that darned eraser. I remember attempting to look through a stack of 3x5 inch small spiral pads, but the eraser kept falling to the floor. (Was this in the days before shopping carts?) Anyway, I guess I put the eraser in the pocket of my light-weight jacket and I didn't find it until the next spring when I wore the jacket again. At that time I was paralyzed by fear, and didn't do anything. Years later as an adult I returned to Seattle, drove past the site, and found that the drugstore building was empty. I can't imagine how my 18 cent error put the Rexall out of business, but that is the first thought that crossed my mind. They have amnesty for overdue books at the library, but there was no way I could "fix" the pink eraser situation.

So, DearREADERS, let's "flesh out" our family trees by making anecdotal entries in addition to the names, dates and places for each ancestor in our genealogy software. Childhood memories can certainly make our family history more interesting for the generations that follow. Make each ancestor someone with whom a great-grandchild can relate.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt      :)
6023 26th Street West PMB 352
Bradenton, FL 34207


1995-2009 Pat Richley HOME | Ask | Blog Right-click to copy RSS feed URL. Add to My Yahoo BookShelf | ContactLessons | Listen to Podcast media RSS feed
Read most 1995-2006 articles | Search | Subscribe