In my opinion

Worth a thousand words

Staff writer

My sister and I enjoy an old photograph album put together by our mother when she was a teenager during the Great Depression. She was one of six children, and although she always told stories about how their family struggled during lean times, I find it amazing that she had this picture album full of photographs of her siblings, friends, pets, extended family, and their home and general store. Who had a camera? Who took the pictures and paid to have the film developed? She never told us, and I never thought to ask.

Before my mother died three years ago, my sister, Karen, and I were at least smart enough to ask her about the names of the people, the events in which everyone was pictured, and the dates and places. The three of us had enjoyable conversations about the memories the pictures triggered. I made trips to Colorado to see her and don’t regret one. She filled in blank spaces about her life — information we can pass on to our children. Her mind was sharp right up until her death. I bet she remembered who had the camera and who took the pictures, too.

I am using a picture of her and one of her sisters as my profile picture on my Facebook page. She and my aunt were about 15 or 16, standing in front of a billboard near their father’s general store in a tiny Arkansas town where they were raised. The billboard boasts a huge old Coca-Cola advertisement.

When I open my page on Facebook and see her picture, I wonder about all the millions of pictures posted on Facebook. Who will save them? Will they go so far afield that no one will ever be able to identify the people in them? Will all the births, parties, school events, weddings, holidays, work, and recreation that are recorded there eventually be lost when Facebook loses its appeal? I do not know how to harvest and save what is on my page; do you?

I have a phone that makes phone calls and stores phone numbers for me. That is all it does. My children and their friends all have phones that take photographs. They download and save them or delete them whenever the mood strikes. They have little appreciation for the part of their life history they are saving and even fewer regrets about what they are deleting.

What if my mom had thought that while she and Aunt Gertrude were dressed up, they just didn’t look their best? With a cell phone, that terrific picture of them would have been gone in a heartbeat.

We all have memories stored on film that we treasure. It is going to become harder and harder to hang on to them. It might be wise to do something with them now while the technology still exists to do so. If you lose what you have with every computer upgrade you make, there won’t be much of your life left for your children or grandchildren to discover and enjoy.

Right now I just regret not asking a question about who had a camera to take pictures. What if there is nothing at all about which you can ask?

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