Jan 31, 2011

"For Posterity's Sake"~ A Family Heirloom Project

While staying at my parents house before the holidays, I was upstairs editing a photo session on my laptop when I heard my mother's excited squeal from the guestroom/office, downstairs.  "Cindy come quick!  Oh, my goodness!  You have to come see this!", she hollered.  I couldn't  make it down the second flight of stairs quick enough.  I had to see what she was so excited about! 

There on her computer screen flashed a faded, in color, movie reel of my grandparent's "life on the farm" in the 1950's.  The moving clips were vintage and grainy, and fabulous!  There on a wooden swing sat my grandmother, swaying back and forth blowing a bubble with her gum!  She was in the prime of her life, smiling, and happy.  My heart skipped a beat.  As I took in her beauty, I realized that I had never seen her like this before.  Grandma died from cancer when I was eight years old.  All of the memories I had were later in her life, when she was older or sick.  That night I saw her for the first time, as a stylish, vivacious woman, full of life!
My Grandparents: Jack & Anabelle Reber
Mom didn't know what she would find when she put the disk into her computer, but a treasury of memories came flooding in as she realized that most of the family in these home movies had long since passed away.  As we watched for a few minutes I caught a glimpse of my mother as a child, standing on the front porch of my grandparents old farm house waving goodbye, while my aunt and uncle (still kids) clung to my Grandma's apron.  Mom was probably about 7 or 8 years old!  These movie clips were priceless. 
The best part was watching my loved ones interact with each other.  They weren't dressed up like movie stars or wearing fancy clothing.  They were simply being themselves, doing every day things like plowing, gardening, picnicing and spending time together.  These everyday happenings from the 50's seemed rather spectacular to a city girl in 2010.  I felt, for a moment, that I had stepped back in time.  I missed them terribly.  But my mind began to reel, as I thought about what I should do with my childhood memories.
As I've grown older, life as I knew it as a kid has changed in many different ways.  Most of the things in my past are long gone, but there are a few things that are still around.  The next few days of my visit were spent photographing some of the everyday things that haven't changed.  This Family Heirloom Project is a collection of images from my childhood home that bring back many memories for me, including my parents, the objects around their house, and the little things they do that make them unique.

Memories of Dad 
Every night before bed, Dad emptied out his pockets--keys, watch, wallet, chapstick, and change. This is where we'd come if we wanted some quarteres to buy candy.  The only thing missing here is his old green bottle of Campo-Phenique. 
Every morning Dad gets up early to haul in the wood and make a fire that
warms the old house.  Notice his tongue sticking out a little?  He always does
this when he's working hard.  I will get a better picture of his "tongue thing" if it
kills me!  :)
This is where Dad could be found almost every night, and especially on Saturdays... in his "Radio Room" aka his man cave.  Even though he didn't like us messing around with his things, we used to love playing in here.  He always had some very interesting things to find, such as sodering irons, wire, electrical stuff, and indian artifacts to name a few. 

Dad cannot turn his hands farther than this. Apparently he's missing one of the digits in his writsts. You should see him at any cash register when they give him change. He has to turn his whole arm and body over to collect the coins so they don't slip through.  Just one of the unique things I love about him :)  Two of my sisters have inherited this same feature.
Dad's old Ham Radio call sign. 

Memories of Mom 
This is the phone in my parents bedroom. It is over 30 years old and it still works!  Notice the wall-paper?  It has a velvety texture, and has been in their room since they built this home in 1974.   

This is Mom's pantry. The grandkids sometimes call it "Grandma's Store". She's always got at least 3 of everything in here.  This is also where she grinds wheat for homemade bread (she makes the best).  The day I took this picture she was grinding wheat to make waffles for the grandkids. 

This is my grandmother's cookie jar that Mom inherited after grandma passed away. I LOVE it! Mom truly believes in this saying, and I really think that's one of the reasons my Dad loves her so much...she's always cookin' up something yummy to eat.

Mom, searching for her recipe.
These couches have been in their living room for lots of years.  Instead of getting new ones Mom had them reupholstered.  She said they were too comfortable to get rid of.  This is where she takes her afternoon nap every day.
The old lamp was a wedding gift from Mom's high school girl friends, and this too
has been re-done several times. 

This project will probably take me a few months to complete, but when I am done, I hope these images will have the same effect on my grandchildren, as the old movies had on me.  I also hope this will inspire you to capture the unique things of some of the important people in your life, while they are still here.


Always, Forever, NO MATTER WHAT said...

I would love to get copies of all of these pictures. That would make a great gift. =0) Every single picture brings back a floud of memories.

Amy said...

Cindy - this is really incredible. That photo of your grandparents is priceless! I would love to do this someday.

Shannon said...

Thank you so much for sharing these and inspiring me to do something similar for myself!

Kim Williams said...

Cindy, I did this for my family in book form. Each page had a photo of my grandparents life. With a poem running through it. How do I love thee, let me count the ways. I love seeing these photos and visiting your parents home. I remember her pantry and your sister JOY looks like your dad so much to me. I love that living room too!!! How wonderful and well done. LOVE IT