Tips from the Pros: Memory Tip

from Paula Stuart Warren 

Several months ago, I told my daughter a story about an experience back when I was in second grade. She is in her 30s and just looked at me and said “How can you remember that stuff? I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday!”

The day before I had lunch with six childhood friends from grade school and we spent part of our two-hour lunch reminiscing. It seems that each of us brings up a different memory from the good ol’ days and our particular memory of that situation adds to the story. At times, one or another of us doesn’t remember the story or situation that the others remember.

These situations struck me as a good lesson in memory. Think about the oral history passed down in your family. This is the time of year for many family holiday celebrations. Start a conversation or two about great-grandma or some other relative or town and be prepared to learn a lot–in various versions. There just might be some research clues in those conversations.

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4 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: Memory Tip

  1. Similarly, I have found that frequent use of a lead-in to a question such as those that follow evoke comments that stimulate recall. For example: “Whatever happened to …” ; “”What was the name of that moviehouse…did you ever go there?”; “Do you remember when I got in touble with Miss Smith in eighth grade?”

    But the best stimulate of all, I am convinced, is old photos and items, especially old iten that were in common use such as an iron skillet, a wind-up alarm clock, —but best of all, old photos.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. I am starting a business of recording peoples memories, lives, special events, etc. I’m using a new digital recorder that will plug into my computer and create a CD(cds) for my clients. I have done this a lot before with family and friends and find the results to be priceless. What a wonderful legacy to have to pass down. So many times we hope that those memories will not fade, and doing this will preserve them. Besides that, it’s so wonderful to have their voices fill the room even when they are gone.

  3. My father passed down a family story of when he was a child. One day, in about 1916,my Grandmother and great aunt were walking to town pushing my father in a buggy. As dad recalled the story Dr Stewart was coming down the street and hit my aunt and the buggy with his car. Dad was not hurt but aunt Helen was and she died of the injuries a few years later. I looked and looked for the incident in Dr Stewarts papers as he was a prominent physician here in our town but never found anything about the incident. Then I went page by page through the old microfilms of the local newspapers and here was a story about it. Dr Stewart was involved but only as a physician giving help to my injured great aunt. The driver of the car wa a visitor to our town and it doesn’t appear he even got in trouble for running down a defensless woman and child!
    This is how stories get changed over the years and with many subsequent re-tellings. We have to take whatever is remembered and use these “facts” to find the rest of the story!

  4. I have found as I get older that I can remember very well the events that happened when I was young, but don’t ask me what I did yesterday.

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