My friend Angela telephoned me to talk about why we should keep old pictures as a way of preserving history for our kids. Although the media does a great job documenting history, it is not their responsibility for maintaining information about our family successes. There will come a time when our kids grow up and become adults. They may want to know about their grandma’s first women-owned grocery store lasting 60 years. Most kids love to hear stories about grandma and grandpa back in the day! Then hold onto memorable stories that grandma and grandpa shared with them about their life experiences growing up in the early 1950s, 1960s, and beyond. Most kids love the delicious sweetbreads prepared by their grandma. And they love to be spoiled by their grandparents and never wish to be sent home.
I always love viewing the pictures of my great-grandma, Lula Taylor, reading the newspaper at 90 years of age. My friend, Jamie Pettit, stated, “I remember my grandma, MaeMaw was always fun to hang with. She kept a doll for me that was just mine. She kept a prayer book by her chair, and it was filled with holy cards! She made time for me and told me stories of my mom growing up. Grandma MaeMaw (Mary Isabella Hoban Ostendorf) was born on February 8, 1888, and died January 30, 1986.”
Unfortunately, there are kids who will never have the opportunity of listening to the life experiences shared by grandparents. There is value in holding on to old family pictures, and someone in the family should do just that for the kids. Pictures do tell a story of the past. So why not save old pictures of grandparents with their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, and cousins? Why not save those pictures of towns, cities, stores, black kettles, washing scrub boards, old state buildings, old homes, old trees, black and white televisions, and schools?
It is important to realize that most grandparents come with a history full of wisdom and love to share that wisdom with their grandkids. It should be important for us to take the time to get to really know and learn from them while they’re here. They’ll cherish the time they get to spend with their grandkids and, in turn, the kids will gain insight and character they can pass onto their own children and grandchildren someday. If the opportunity presents itself, take advantage of it because there is no better way to pass on family stories than through time spent with one another documented with pictures.
Old family photos are a wonderful keepsake for relatives as they travel down memory lane. They’re irreplaceable; unlike digital photos, you can’t take another one. The people in them are probably long gone, so looking at photos is a wonderful way of remembering them. Family photos will also be a great keepsake to pass on to your own kids, and you can tell them about ancestors that they never met.
Old family photos can be extremely amusing and funny, especially if you have a good sense of humor! Looking back at the vintage clothing and the dreadful haircuts parents made you have as a child will make you giggle and swear that you’re going to get your revenge by placing them in a scary retirement home!
It’s always wise to digitize your old family photos to preserve them, scan them or re-photograph them, and save them onto an external hard drive or cloud storage. And if you don’t want old prints, pass them on to someone who does. If they’re really old, consider donating them to a museum or local archive. What family mementos do you treasure, and what would you like to pass on to your kids? The time to do it is now, for it will be gone before we know it.
Doris A. Symonds is the Owner of T.A.L.K. – Teaching & Learning for Knowledge. She is a Small Business Consultant for “Entrepreneurs” and the author of Entrepreneurs! Know What You Don’t Know – 2020, and How I Saved $10,500 With 4 Quarters A Day! She received the 2020 Women in Business Leadership Award, Illinois SBDC – Bradley University – Illinois PTAC, and the 2019 Business Pioneer Award, Black Business Alliance Peoria Chapter.