I had occasion recently to haul out seven old scrapbooks to show to a friend. Frankly, the friend was not interested, but I was.
Page by page, I carefully viewed each page in every scrapbook. There were photos and souvenirs and lots of little notes from me explaining why the souvenirs had been kept. I also, apparently, wrote a number of long holiday letters sent to friends. I wrote pretty well in those years; the typing (manual typewriter) and spelling were for the most part correct, and I was optimistic about most things. But I’m glad I grew up a bit since then. Reading the old letters let me know that the years since the scrapbooks had been grown-up years.
Scrapbooks also remind the creator of things that happened that somehow have been forgotten. The scrapbooks had part of a diary I had written in 1955 — lots of school and babysitting and volleyball. The scrapbooks also led me to remember my freshman year in college because Nikita Khrushchev visited Iowa State College where I was enrolled. His visit was primarily to see the hog farm, but also to visit a home economics class where a plan to boil water was scrubbed at the last minute in case something splattered on Mr. Khrushchev. By the way, whatever happened to Home Economics classes?
I also had pictures from a number of trips–some with my family–some with friends–and some photos of me with dates. Yes, back in the 60s gals had lots of dates in college; the ratio of men to women was 3 to l, and weekends and sometimes Sunday mornings were all for dates. Today I see that in many colleges, the ratio is 60 women for every 40 men. Wow. We were lucky back in the 60s. I even kept one of the lists that had been by the hallway phone that we all used. Looking at the list, we all knew who was getting calls from whom. Times have changed.
A note from my sorority said this: “You as an Alpha Delta Pi pledge mean a lot to us. We know that this quarter you will make your grades for activation in the Fall.” Signed: Pi chapter. (I wonder what had happened the quarter before?)
Friends in college and my first year at the company where I worked for 39 years also make their presence known in the scrapbooks. Me? I looked better then than I thought I did. And in my mind, I haven’t changed–though I remember a person I knew at the company looking at an early picture of me and wondering who it was. My friends looked great and I remember all their names.
I had souvenirs from dances with themes and notes about my occasional role as publicity chairman. I once wrote an ad for an activity with the headline: “Censored”. Lots of people read that one. I edited a newspaper for sororities and fraternities. I edited a neighborhood news sheet as well. I had no love letters. Obviously I didn’t make the most of the ratio.
My father wrote regularly and I even put a small book together called “Quotes from Dad.” Reading them now, some of the jokes he sent I’ve now heard many times. But my Dad’s neat printing on the letters was a joy to remember.
Apparently I liked to write letters to celebrities. I found a letter from Glenn Campbell and one from Wayne Newton thanking me for my letters.
I don’t remember making my scrapbooks, so I looked up scrapbooking online and found that years ago scrapbooking stores were a big thing. Today with Facebook and digital files, scrapbooking isn’t as popular as it once was though I did run into a scrapbooking website, Scrapbook.com, and March is National Craft Month, an important month if indeed your scrapbook is very creative. And stores like Michael’s still have many, many products for those who like to scrapbook.
Because I have no children, I suppose when I join my pets at the rainbow bridge, my scrapbooks will disappear. In the meantime, they remind me about the life I lived during a certain time long ago. I wish now I had kept up the scrapbooking. I do have lots of pictures, however. I believe in printing pictures rather than seeing them on an iPhone screen. Every so often, I page through the photos, too.
For the youngsters? Don’t live your life on your cell phone. Download your favorite photos and put them in a book along with information about those pictures. I guarantee you, when you reach grandparent age, you will love spending an afternoon looking through the books. Of course, you can also go to your personal cloud and see the thousands of images and files you have placed there. Unlike a scrapbook, there will be no degrading of the files, but you’ll be missing the relaxation of turning pages slowly.
Scrapbook memories are a gift.