But we’re factories that work more on whim than process. We’re undisciplined when it comes to preserving and sharing our memories and stories.
That thought came to me as I went on a tour of Legacy Republic’s Santa Clara, California’s “Memory Factory.” (NOTE: Legacy Republic provided me with airfare and hotel accommodations to take part of their 2017 Reunion Conference. I am a “Legacy Maker,” or Legacy Republic consultant.) Their memory factory was a clean, secure processing facility, which tracked customer media a lot better than my brain keeps up with the episodes of my past.
As the tour progressed, and I watched the care with which old 8 mm films, VHS tapes, slides and photos were treated, it occurred to me that there’s a lot we, as descendants and parents, ought to be doing to preserve the output of human memory factories. Especially those memory factories of loved ones that don’t have the precision of recall that their owners would like.
Handling All Memories with Care
One of the other consultants reported that she had been on a flight with a WWII veteran who was en route to the 72nd reunion of the USS Indianapolis’ surviving crew members. The passengers gave him an ovation, all too aware of the rarity and value of his stories, of the history he witnessed. Only 317 of the 1,196 men on the USS Indianapolis survived the 1945 attack by the Japanese and days of floating in shark-infested waters. Today, only 20 of those 317 are living.
I’m truly glad that we as a society take the time to honor our heroes. We should.
However, it makes me wonder why it take such a momentous glimpse of history to move us to preserve and share someone’s stories and memories. Why we don’t take time to perpetuate our own.
We know that every person’s memories matter, but often, it takes the frailty of a loved one for us to feel some urgency about preserving their memories and stories. We wait until we see the inexorability of time’s march forward, before deciding to “write some of this down.”
Perhaps we should be more like the factory.
Legacy Republic’s Memory Factory doesn’t rank memories as it processes old media formats. They know each one matters. If the customer views their tapes, films, slides, photos, or albums as precious enough to preserve in digital form, Legacy Republic tracks them meticulously and scans them with care. Every one of their processes and computer systems are geared towards the security of media. Whether it’s a four-year old’s piano recital, a wedding, or the family dog, they want their customers to be able to relive those moments.
We can do the same. Whether it’s the story we’ve heard a thousand times about how grandpa had to pick turnips for 5¢ an hour, a new story of how he met the love of his life, or the harrowing battles he witnessed and lived through, we can preserve loved ones stories.
Making Sure Factory Output is Shared
The sharing piece of the puzzle is often the one that falls under the table. And, there’s only so much our natural memory factory can do without a “Legacy Maker.”
In the case of Legacy Republic, they can enable sharing by providing digital formats of memories, optimized for sharing, as well as cloud storage and even photo gifts and wall art. They can plan for the future, buying up professional tape decks in every format known to man from eBay and building their own 8 mm film scanning equipment. They train their consultants—called “Legacy Makers”—to show clients how to share their memories with family and loved ones and to encourage them to tell their stories.
However, the true legacy makers are those who share their memories or tell their family member’s stories. The ones that, as they show a picture of a child in front of a 70’s era motel, explain why they were there. Perhaps it’s the story of the family’s immigration to the USA. Perhaps, it’s a last vacation with a family member who died shortly afterwards.
The photo is itself is a treasure; the accompanying story a legacy.
The same goes for those of us who are writing down our family stories. We can preserve stories with our research, photos, documents and writing. But we also need to plant the seeds that will lead to a harvest of narratives. We have to share the stories; start conversations.
Are you a legacy maker? What are you doing with the memory factories in your family? Preserving the episodes of their past? Writing down stories? Sharing?
If you’d like help with preserving those old memories lurking in drawers and closets, Legacy Republic’s services has the solution. Learn more at LauraHedgecock.LegacyRepublic.com. (Affiliate Link)
Graphic: Compiled using images placed in the public domain by user Geralt at Pixabay.com and author’s images.
Memory Factory images used with permission, © 2017 Legacy Republic
Motel family image used with permission, © Sharleen Reyes
 Joe Melillo, “Crew of WWII ship USS Indianapolis to gather for 72nd anniversary,”WISH TV, July 28, 2017, http://wishtv.com/2017/07/28/crew-of-wwii-ship-uss-indianapolis-to-gather-for-72nd-anniversary/.