I spent Easter weekend examining my dad’s slides taken during the 1950s when he was in the Army, stationed in the US and Japan (no combat duty). Dad and I used an old illuminated screen to view the slides against and chose ones to save, and my sister used a device to view and save to computer. Dad loved reviewing his past, but I think he really loved that his daughters were so interested. I wrote down names and places and scribbled down the stories he told. Amazingly, with this teamwork, we went through all the boxes of slides—at least from this timeframe. The rest we’ll save for my and my sister’s memoirs.
I’ll be using the slides and my scribbles to write my dad’s memoir of his youth and Army days. This besides his family history book I completed late last year. I will also look through a stack of letters he wrote to his parents, but I already transcribed a couple audio reel tapes he had made in Japan and mailed to his parents. I was very happy with the work Memory Keepers in Naperville, Illinois, did at reasonable cost.
Many of our older generation have a lot of slides hidden away. We found some real gems in my dad’s collection. Fun shots of him and his Army buddies, beautiful ones of my mother as a young woman, happy gatherings of relatives. These were in color versus the black and white photos I had for use in the family history book. It is worthwhile to get the equipment needed to view and convert slides into .jpg format to save for easy viewing. Or, you can pay a company like Memory Keepers to convert and even clean up the images to remove dust specks and minor imperfections.
My sister and I loved seeing our father so happy and excited, remembering the old days and the stories behind the slides. We learned our dad was even more of an adventurer than we had thought, and that some stories we knew were not quite what we had been told. What a great bonding and learning experience! We were all quite worn out from too much fun (and squinting).
A great way to pull stories out of parents and grandparents is to go over old photos. Mostly people like to tell what happened, so ask questions to pull more information out, especially about what they thought or felt about the places they were in, the people, the situation. You might be astonished at the person you only know as a parent or grandparent.