Monthly Archives: June 2012


Going through a phase.  That’s what parents say when their kids want to wear their hair funny, or dress in some unique way.  Or when they run amok in their personal behavior, at least in their parent’s eyes.  If it’s someone else’s kid of course, it’s simply a weird kid.  Phases aren’t limited to kids though.  And sometimes they last long enough to move from phase to personality trait.  It’s all part of a person’s personal history.  And all worth capturing.

The beach always throws me into a recurring phase.  Suntan, bushy blond hair do.  Pull out the surfboard again.  Somehow the ocean is my fountain of youth.  But besides thinking I’m a youngster again, the phase creeps into other parts of my world.  Art galleries and t-shirt shops call my name at the beach.  Sometimes there is a fine line between the two.  A t-shirt could be an art form, but for the most part what we are talking about here are either mass produced items advertising the beach, or custom made airbrushed work.  Neither created to last generations.  Shops like this often also sell sea shells, shot glasses, two dollar prints of fish and stuffed alligator heads.  These things are intriguing when you’re at the beach, but when you get them home you have to ask yourself, “what the hell was I thinking?”  And into obscurity they go.

Art galleries are a little different, but not always much.  Those oil paintings of sea oats on the dunes with a wave splashing in the background, full of shades of blue, may look good at the shop, but when you get it home the question is, “where does it fit in?”  Sometimes you’ll actually find some good work.  And it’s not even always related to the beach.  Maybe a good artist just happens to live at the beach, but their subject matter crosses many lines.

I’m trying to decide.  Is the piece I found today a part of the phase I’m in based on my being at the beach, or do I really like it and does it fit into my world long term?  I can see it at my home.  Away from the beach. It fits.  Vibrant colors.  Maybe it’s not part of the phase, just another example for the eclectic art that I enjoy.  My collection is growing.  And it’s part of my personal history.


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The Family Vacation

The great American family vacation.  What images does that thought conjure up?  A packed car on the way to the beach or the mountains.  Rushing to the airport to catch a flight to far away lands.  Lying around the backyard pool.  We all have our own destinations, but what these trips have in common for all of us are the memories made.  Some are good.  Some are not.  And some form more long lasting memories than others.  For me, some years blend together with similar trips to the same place, visiting other family members.  They roll into one larger experience of how I see my family now.  Regardless of good, bad or indifferent, these trips are all a part of what being a family is about.  And all are part of the personal history of each family member.

 Mostly we remember the good parts of these trips, but it’s interesting what else we remember.  There was a summer when the trip to the Cape was filled with rain and rain and more rain.  I don’t know what year it was, or even exactly where, but I remember two things very vividly about that trip.  Well, including the rain, it’s three.  My mother and father and I went to an auction where my mother bought me a wooden boat model.  A pond boat from Camp Calumet.  It wasn’t the first one she bid on.  The other thing I remember was my dad picking up a hitchhiker.  He was a soldier, in uniform, with a duffle bag.  And yes, it was raining.  I was very surprised because hitchhikers, even back then, could be dangerous.  But my dad had no reservation.  Maybe because it was during the Vietnam War.  Maybe because my dad had been a soldier.  That memory has long stayed with me.  But I don’t pick up hitchhikers.  And I was a soldier too.

 We build ties and learn about each other during these trips.  And learn about the world and ourselves.  I am amazed when I watch my children.  Now not so much children any longer.

 This will be our trip to the beach.  Seven hours in the car.  We’ll stop often for me to stretch my back.  We will be five people and a load of beach chairs, umbrellas, sand toys, surfboards, a few clothes, and kites.  I’m the one who likes the kites.  Every year I take them hoping the kids will want to help me fly the kites.  But it’s boring for them.  Up it goes and then what?  I tie it to my beach chair and relax.  I’d like to learn to fly.

 We’ve made other long trips.  The two-day drive to see my parents up north.  The long overseas flight to Italy.  And a long, overnight train ride to New York.  Each different, but each an experience to remember.

 I’m not sure exactly what we’ll do on this trip, but it will be special.  Partly because it will be our last together as parents and children.  Next year they will both be in college, and thus independent grownups.  At least they will think so.  But we’ll still be family, and we’ll be together making memories.  It’s been a while since I’ve been on one of these outings, and I will savor it.  Save your family’s personal history.  For the future.

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Father’s Day

I wanted to say that fathers are an interesting bunch.  But they’re not.  That is, they are certainly interesting, but a bunch they are not.  There are indeed many of them, and that is exactly why they are not a bunch.  Each is unique, and so is his story.

Most dads aren’t famous.  They’re not generals, CEOs, rock stars, great athletes or presidents.  But they all have a story.  Some dads are very vocal in presenting their story at every opportunity.  Others don’t share as much.  It’s not that there are deep dark secrets, it’s just that they don’t talk about it.

There seems to be a fairly common roller coaster ride that dads take through their kids lives, with ups and downs in the relationship.  Little kids love daddy.  As they get a little older he gets to be more opf a pain until in their teen years most kids believe their dad to be the ultimate dumbass.  But as the kids get older, dad somehow gets smarter until at some point the kids realize that maybe he was a pretty good guy all along.

Dad was born, grew up, got married, had kids and went to work.  What was that all about?  If he dodn’t say, and nobody asked, the story is lost.  Who is he?  If you don’t know, isn’t it time to ask?  He may not be famous, but there is sure to be a good story.  Save it so he remembers.  And so you will know.  We can understand a lot about ourselves by knowing our fathers.  Future generations will thank you.

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There are a number of thoughts on the concept of time.  How does it progress?  What is the best way to measure time?  And why do we measure time at all?  On a cosmic scale, is the time we are able to comprehend, and measure, really of any significance?  Of course, we don’t typically live our lives on a cosmic scale.  We fit into all of that realm somewhere, but we live on a human scale.

I see time moving in a manner similar to a motion picture.  There are endless still shots, all strung together into a segment of time.  Perhaps just a moment, or perhaps a lifetime.  When we were kids we would make crude movies by drawing pictures on the pages of a book, each drawing just a little different from the last so that when you flipped through the pages it seemed like the image was in motion.  Capturing a moment in time may be like grabbing just one of those images.

I’ve restarted my photographic endeavors and I’m about to drive thirty miles to take a picture.  One shot.  One image of a subject that interests me.  I saw the basic image while driving down the road one day, but didn’t have the camera.  So, I have to go back.  Among photographers there are those who think that they create shots, which they indeed do by posing people and objects, and those who believe that they just capture an image that is already there for the taking.  More of an observer. I’m of the latter school of thought, just taking pictures of things that are there.  My creative skills come into play by how I analyse what I’ve captured.

My youngest child will soon be off to college and I’ve been taking pictuers of events surrounding that occassion.  Many small steps leading to a momentous event.  Life changing for all of us.  High school graduation.  College orientation.  The upcoming move-in day.  And the good byes.  It’s all unfolding in front of me and I’m trying to capture the time and events.  A young life, but filled with important milestones.  All worth saving.

That’s what I do as a personal history writer.  Instead of just photos, I use words to capture a moment.  A human moment or a cosmic moment.  Let me be your personal history writer so I can capture your moments for you to remember, and for future generations to appreciate as well.

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Who I Am

Did you know that the first personal history was written by….Well, we don’t know who was the first to record such a story, or who the subject of this might have been, but we do know that throughout history people have been eager to  immortalize themselves and their accomplishments.  Cave drawings, pyramids, portraits and books of many types all chronicle in their own way the story of some life.  Not all revolve aroound the rich, powerful or royal.  Some reveal the lives of common people.  And all are incredibly valuable to our understanding of the past.

This blog is dedicated to personal histories, the unique story that each of us has.  I have made it my goal to help people, all kinds of people, to record their personal history for future generations.  It may be a veteran sharing his experiences with his grandchildren.  Or it might be a younger generation preserving the story of a parent or grandparent for posterity.  Check out my website,, to see what I do.

I’ll be blogging about new projects and ideas about personal histories as well as the progress of this business.  Check back for a variety of topics.  I hope you will enjoy my posts.  And maybe you will want me to preserve a history for you.  Let me be your Personal History Writer.

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