Today I had the honor to present to Violet on her 101st birthday the printed book of her life story that she and I had compiled, “A Trunkful of Memories – Reminiscing on the Past 100 Years.” Our town’s historical association, which I am a member of, understood the necessity and the importance to interview Violet, a lifetime one hundred year old town resident. Preserving Violet’s memories of her family, farm life and education will enable future generations to read her first-hand account of the life of this early 20th century family from this small town in Indiana.
Barb, a longtime member of the Association as well as a longtime friend to Violet, was willing to make the introduction. Barb met with me to give a brief introduction of Violet’s background and to see the treasures Violet donated to the Association.
Opening Violet’s trunk we found priceless family pictures, her christening gown, baby clothes, and her mother’s wedding dress along with a tin container protecting the flowers from her parents’ 1908 wedding.
I was already excited to meet Violet so it was a pleasure to meet this energetic woman at an assisted living home in town. She flawlessly maneuvered her electric powered wheelchair in her room and down the hallway.
Once we rearranged the seating and Violet was able to self-maneuver her wheelchair into reverse to back herself against the wall, and the video camera was set up, we were taken back up to one hundred years ago as she described her childhood, her parents, grandparents, brothers, life on the farm and moving to town. She seemed to vividly remember riding the horse and buggy to school and the family Christmas tradition of cleaning the house for Santa Claus.
I also had the opportunity to meet Francy and Erick who not only purchased Violet’s 177 acre farm but they, along with all of their children, became dear friends to her. Francy and Erick graciously let me visit them giving more details to the farm’s history and sharing pictures with me. Walking through the old dairy barn and buildings, climbing the ladder up to the hayloft and seeing a wider view of the farm, and walking around their property helped me visualize Violet as a young woman living on this farm in the early 1900’s.
We had a few copies of the book at the open house and it was satisfying to see the adults skimming over it and some sitting for an extended time reading it and giving positive reviews. However, I did a double take when glancing to the left of me I saw a young eight year old boy sitting at a table perusing the book. Thanks to the pictures and stories that Violet shared, he was able to visualize this 101 year old woman as a child. That was gratifying as my mission was met: “Keeping Your Memories for future generations.”
Recording Violet’s life story has kept her legacy preserved. And Keeping Your Memories of your life will be invaluable to your great grandchildren years from now. You would not be just a picture with a few recorded facts, but you will be an ancestor turning your life experiences into life lessons for your descendants.
Open up your laptop or grab pen and paper and start recording your life experiences for future generations to read. Start with these questions:
- What is the most important date in your personal history?
- What was the hardest thing that you ever had to do?
- If you could change anything in your life, what would you change?
- Was there one moment in your life that changed everything for you?