Posted by Juliana Szucs on May 15, 2014 in Ask Juliana

I’m feeling time slipping by more acutely these days. In less than a month, my daughter will be graduating from high school and it’s hitting me hard. I’ve been going through old pictures in preparing a project for the occasion and the memories are just washing over me. (Note to self: Buy more tissues.)

For most of my life, I’ve been a family historian, but I haven’t been as good as I could be about documenting our contemporary family history. As interesting as my ancestors are, we’re a pretty interesting bunch too, and we deserve a little love.

So now is the time for me to get serious. To really motivate myself, I’m going to pick a topic to write about—at least once a week (hopefully more). Since my sister and I have been having some fun with “Throwback Thursdays,” sharing old family photos on Facebook, I’m adopting that day as my day for writing down one memory. Some will be of my daughter’s early years, some will be of mine, and I’m encouraging my husband to put some of his memories in writing as well.

I’m not tying myself to a formula either. Some days it may be word heavy, other days, it might be a photo montages, with a few stories scattered in. Heck, some days it might be just photos (labeled, of course). It doesn’t have to follow any rules. Hopefully, Maddy and her descendants won’t care about that; they’ll just care that they have the stories. Stories I can only wish for when it comes to many of my ancestors—stories that I work so hard to pry from the records they left behind.

To make sure these stories get saved, I’ve started a notebook where I can file printed copies, and I’m also attaching copies of the documents to people in my tree. Having a place and a system set up will help me as well.

Since many of you may be in the same predicament as I am (nudge, nudge), I thought it might be fun to share the journey. For those of you who could use some prompts, we’re going to post ideas here every Thursday that will hopefully stir some memories that you’d like to record. Feel free to share them on our Facebook page as well.

Trish Di Jul 1971Your Room Growing Up

I have vivid memories of my bedrooms growing up. There were four girls in the house and two bedrooms allotted to us. Mom would switch things up every so often so I spent time rooming with each of my sisters at some point or another. I remember the sock wars we’d have with the balled up socks from the sock basket where we kept all of our socks. We used the two twin beds in that room for cover and the middle of the beds was “no man’s land.”

Then there was the Christmas that Diana and I watched from bed, pretending to be asleep, as Santa brought the Barbie camper we had been wishing for out of the crawl space door in our closet. That camper would later become a tool of espionage as we would hide a tape recorder in it and slyly roll it into the other bedroom where our sisters were playing. Nothing suspicious about that, right? I’m not sure what we were hoping to capture on tape, but it never worked anyway.

girls dresser 1972The crawl space in the closet was a story in itself.  Below a hinged trap door, was a gravel surface that was covered with a thin carpet. There was one bare light bulb to light the space. A newcomer to the Midwest, my mother had a healthy respect for tornadoes, especially after the 1967 Oak Lawn tornado killed 33 people and left a swath of damage across the Chicago area. So with every tornado watch or warning, we were ushered to the crawl space where we gathered around the transistor radio waiting for the storm to pass. We’d bring dolls and play games to pass the time, so it wasn’t all bad, but I remember it being not too comfortable sitting down there.

So this week’s prompt is where did you sleep growing up? Did you share a room? (Or perhaps, like my mom, you got to enjoy fresh air, sleeping on a screened in porch.) What color was the room? What kind of bed? What was your favorite thing about it? What memories do you have that took place in that room?

Juliana Szucs

Juliana Szucs has been working for for more than 19 years. She began her family history journey trolling through microfilms with her mother at the age of 11. She has written many articles for online and print genealogical publications and wrote the "Computers and Technology" chapter of The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Juliana holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program.


  1. Linda McGue

    This is such a good idea. I keep meaning to write a story of my life, but never seem to start the seemingly huge project (i’m getting up there in years). This blog brought so many memories to the surface, now I just have to sit down and put them on paper (or hard drive), right? Keep the memory ticklers coming.

    • Juliana Smith

      Am glad you found it helpful. Was fun taking a trip down memory lane. 🙂 I’m keeping a paper binder as well as the electronic versions. For some reason I think something tangible might have a better chance of getting passed on than an electronic file.

  2. Mary

    Thank you for sharing this idea and the prompts. It’s been on my heart for a long time to write my story. This is just the incentive I needed. You’ve just broken down an overwhelming idea into very doable parts.

    • Juliana Smith

      You can cancel your membership by calling 1-800=ANCESTRY. (1-800-262-3787) One of our member services representatives can help you.

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