Preserving Memories


Contributing Writer
Janet Wahlberg

Here we are in a new year and with it the potential for making new family memories. Did any of you do anything new and different for the holidays this year?? Was this the first holiday that you were able to get together since Covid?? If so, have you added a few sentences about how Covid affected your life. Now for the big question, have you started on that autobiography that you intend to leave behind? I confess that I have started on mine, but it is pretty slim at the present time.

The best way to get started is to just START!. I know that sounds rather simple, but it truly is simple. With the use of a computer, you can add random thoughts and go back later to flesh them out, move then around chronologically and make any corrections that are needed. This can be an ongoing project without a looming deadline to take the fun out of it.

So, to start consider some of these questions. Where were you born? What is your earliest memory? Where did you go to school? Did you have a favorite teacher? If so, why? Did you have pets as a child? Did you go to college? Where? What are some memories of that? Did you go into the Military? If so, where did you serve? What type of work did you do? Did you marry? What hobbies did or do you have and what memories do those hobbies bring forward. Share some silly adventure that you may have had a young child. Trust me your grandchildren and great grandchildren will cherish stories like that.

A personal example of a long-ago memory came to me a few weeks age. My family was in the military so we only got home about once a year, two weeks in Ohio and tow weeks in Maine. My mother’s family was from Maine and they always put together a reunion when we were coming home. They were held on the farm at Tuttle Rd in Cumberland, ME. My great grandparents lived there with their oldest daughter. It was a typical New England Farmhouse that was connected to the barn by serval small building and sheds including the outhouse. What a treat this was for the kids, hide and seek in and out of the various buildings, and climbing in the hay mow. Of course, we had to dodge great grampie as he was very strict. While we played, the men gathered up sawhorses and put old door or other pieces of wood on the m to make tables. The ladies showed up with snow white sheets to cover them. In the meantime, as family members arrived more wonderful food was lied on the table. The day went on until dark with the kids playing and the older family members sharing memories. Many of the stories that I have about the earlier generation of my mother’s family came from these reunions. Why do I thin that this memory should be in my autobiography? Note that I was at my great grandparent’s house. With this memory, I bring to my grandchildren a direct link to their 3 times great grandparents.

I would ask you to join me in working on this in the new year. Set up a document in your computer or in a hand written notebook and put random thoughts in as they occur. The perhaps every couple of months sit down and take the time to create a narrative from this. Don’t feel that you have to list every detail of your life. Just give some highlights. My father left us an autobiography that told us that he had worked in Coal mines for a brief couple of months. We never knew. He also shared a few brief memories of WWII and his time aboard a destroyer. These memories are priceless to us. Leave your family priceless memories.

To read Janet Walberg’s previous genealogy columns or to delve deeper into her writings and insights for searching out and recording your own family’s genealogy, please go to and visit Janet’s own web page.