As a young mother, there was a time when I got hooked by genealogy. It was the time of typewriters with ribbons — such fiddly contraptions. Outsized genealogy charts and record-searching was not as easy to do as it is now with a computer and the easy-to-use internet sites.
My compulsion didn’t last long because I was just too mired in cookie crumbs and diapers to take time to pursue my new-found passion.
My dear old dad, when he retired and served a mission with my mom at the genealogy library in Salt Lake City, took up the gauntlet and made book after book for his children with pages neatly placed in plastic. They are treasures because I am of the era who likes to see a printed page.
Seeing all the charts and names is one thing, but as the Chinese proverb says, “A pictures worth a thousand words,” when three cousins sent me pictures found while cleaning out their files, I was thrilled.
I loved my Grandpa Steed. My sister, mother and I lived with dad’s parents while he was in the Navy during World War II. Grandpa used to take me to games down at Farmington park once in awhile. He would buy me a paper doll book to keep me busy while he watched. He loved baseball, and I adored my grandpa, so I made sure I was a good little pal.
I remember him as a pretty rough, hewn guy. He worked hard at a job in the slaughter house of Cudahy Meat packing, but, at home, he was a gentle giant of a man.
My cousin Geniel Harris recently sent me a picture of my Grandmother and Grandfather Steed with their first child, Geniel’s mother Thelma. I had never seen a picture of them so young. I couldn’t stop looking at it for a long time.
A similar experience happened when my cousin Nani Beus sent a picture of my mother and two of her sisters. Mother is holding her youngest brother Max. I had seen pictures of her in high school, but never as a young girl. It was a second treasure.
She and her sisters look healthy, seemingly enjoying a lovely day, when someone took their pictures.
The stories my mother would tell me about her growing-up years were often sad stories. Her father was a farmer during the Depression. They had food to eat because of the farming, but she, as the middle child of 13 often felt looked down on because of being the poor cousins.
Mother told stories of hard work and sacrifice for family, but it was those experiences that made her such a wonderful mother and grandmother to all. She hated sunflowers because they grew prolifically along the canal where, as a teenager, she had to work hard in the fields, getting sunburned. It was not at all fashionable at the time.
Mom loved roses and tended to them all her life. She told me just before she died that if a flower arrangement came with a sunflower in it to pull the sunflower out.
Another joy was receiving pictures from my husband Grit’s cousin, Blaine Leonard. This experience convinced me to go through all the pictures on my computer. Any I cared about now have names in the picture information because in a few of the pictures he sent, everyone has died who could have rightly identified them. Grit couldn’t identify his mother in her early 20s in some of the pictures.
One of the pictures Blaine sent, taken with Grit and his cousins, is another found treasure. Texting and emailing back and forth between siblings and cousins turned up names of many of those in the photos and even the babies' names by guessing who they would be in order of birth.
My grandchildren take pictures with their camera every day thinking nothing of it. Life becomes clutter unless we organize and identify things we treasure, especially pictures. Insight into our ancestors can be lost just because we think we are going to live forever.