Welcome to the August issue!
I hope you’re having a great summer! In this edition, I’ll share a recent experience that reminded me of how places and objects can be powerful connections to our family’s past.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the Family Legacy Video® Producer’s e-Newsletter. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone toll-free (888.662.1294) with any questions or comments you have.
Cheers! – – Steve Pender
Touching the past.
It was a Tuesday morning, and I’d just finished a ten-minute presentation to a business networking group I’d joined a couple of months before. I thought I’ve give this particular group a try because it’s members are folks who provide various services and products to seniors and their families – and they didn’t have a video biographer. So I paid for an annual membership and an ad in their resource guide. Having done so, I earned the privilege of addressing a breakfast meeting to promote Family Legacy Video, Inc.
I was one of three new members on the bill. I spoke second, and gave what I thought was a very inspiring and informative presentation. As I settled back into my chair, a gentleman who looked to be in his late 60s, and who I’ll call Gerry, took his turn at the microphone. Instead of launching into a description of his business, Gerry pointed to me and said, “Related to what this gentleman just spoke about, I have a story to tell you.” It turns out that Gerry had recently made a pilgrimage to a museum in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. The museum had once been the home of a wealthy railroad baron and it had been restored to the condition it was in when the railroad magnate lived there. What made the trip a pilgrimage for Gerry? The house, and the estate on which it sat, was where his grandparents worked as young people and where they met and fell in love.
He went on to relate the highlight of his visit: the kitchen, where his grandmother had worked as a cook. But as Gerry talked about entering that room, a funny thing happened. His lower lip began to quiver and his voice wavered. I could tell he was suddenly brimming with emotion and was struggling to keep it in check. Then, as Gerry described actually touching the stove where his grandmother labored so many years ago, his voice broke and he shed a few tears. It was almost as if physical contact with the stove had completed a circuit, or a connection, with his grandmother. I think we were all surprised, Gerry not in the least, at what a powerful experience this was for him. It was a deeply touching moment, and a reminder to me of how physical things – like a house, an old stove, or other kinds of family memorabilia can stimulate memories and link us to long-ago relatives.
In the early 1980s, I vacationed in Egypt with a couple of former college buddies of mine. As I stood in the Cairo Museum looking at cases filled with jewelry crafted thousands of years ago, I felt as if those ancient goldsmiths had personally reached across the millenia to share their art and expertise with me. It seemed a funny thought at the time, but the experience with Gerry, and the sentimental connections I feel, as well as the memories that get stirred, when I’m holding and looking at the few family heirlooms I have tells me my feeling that day in Cairo was quite valid.
A linen towel sent as a wedding gift from relatives in Poland to my great-grandmother, my great-grandfather’s pipe, my grandfather’s pocket watch, the Atwater-Kent radio that brought shows like “Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy” into my mom’s childhood home – all of these items help to ground me and connect me to former generations of my family, even when I don’t necessarily know them by name.
These objects can, like photos, help stimulate memories and stories. So if you’re thinking about interviewing a family storyteller, but you don’t know where to start, try having him or her focus on your family keepsakes and see what memories they kindle.
– Steve Pender
Family Legacy Video to discontinue DIY products.
As announced in last month’s issue, Family Legacy Video will soon end sales of some of our “do-it-yourself” products, including the Family Legacy Video® Producer’s Guide on CD, the Family Legacy Video® Producer’ e-Guide, and the Family Legacy Video® Producer’s Music CD. There are currently just six Producer’s Guide CDs left in stock. Sales will cease when the last guide is sold or the summer ends – whichever comes first.
“The Legacy Video Lounge” podcast update.
The July podcast featured an interview with Penelope Starr, founder of the Odyssey Storytelling series in Tucson, Arizona. Learn what a live storytelling event is all about, and how stories can have powerful impacts on both storyteller and audience. You’ll find that episode and all of the other Legacy Video Lounge podcasts here.