We got a later start Tuesday than Monday, but it was still very productive. Grampy pulled out another box full of pictures, neatly separated into decades and marked in my father’s writing (an example: “The Big 70’s”) featuring an envelope of shots from the 40’s we hadn’t looked at yet. We filled the better part of two more tapes with recollections and names, and Grampy even pulled out a photo of my great-great Grandfather.
He’s doing really well with the photos. Even though many of the subjects are of his wife’s family, he’s able to pick out an average of 75% of the people involved. It’s amazing to see my grandparents as 18-year-old kids vacationing in Budd Lake or at Point Pleasant; it’s another thing entirely to finally understand the family tree and be able to pick out faces with some degree of success.
During one of the breaks, I decided to head back out into the wind and cold (it’s hovering somewhere in the 20’s this week) to shoot some pictures of the farm. First, I put the Jeep in 4-wheel and drove out to the west hedgerow, where two gravestones have stood among the weeds since the early 1800’s. Then, I shot some pictures of the barn.
When my grandfather bought the house, he also bought the 53 acres it sits on and a gaggle of outbuildings, all of which are now gone. (Total cost in 1953: $6,000) The barn itself still stands, as a testament to its post-and-beam construction. I poked inside, making sure to stick to the sills so that I wouldn’t fall through the rotted floorboards, and shot a bunch of pictures of the beams and joists. I didn’t make it into the silo, which will probably stand long after the barn is gone—it was put up with ceramic brick at some point before my grandparents owned the farm, for a sum of $100. The wooden roof blew off in the last big windstorm of last year, but the structure is still intact. The milking shed my grandfather built fell down long ago, but I have pictures of it from ten years ago when the stanchions still stood and the windows looked out onto the back 40.
There are a wealth of pictures starring my aunts and uncles, and, of course, my father. He appears as a pudgy newborn with his mink-clad aunts and uncles and as a skinny college student home on break. I commandeered the kitchen table and spent the last two evenings scanning photos, everything at 600dpi and a select bunch at 1200dpi (the oldest and rarest, as well as my father’s baby pictures) for a current total of 2.5GB of data.
Today is Ash Wednesday, so we’re getting a late start after Grampy gets back from church. I’m going to use the afternoon after his nap to get another hour or so, and hopefully we’ll make it to the 50’s—which hasn’t even been scratched yet.
My grandfather met us at the door this morning with a smile, and waited for us to carry all the gear inside. He led us into the living room, where he’d spread out the contents of three or four boxes on the loveseat, coffee table, and easy chair: scores of black and white pictures dating back to at least the turn of the century. On the back, where he could remember faces and dates, he pencilled in information in scratchy uppercase lettering. After getting the camera set up and the mics in place, we started rolling.
Grampy did very well on his first day. With a quick break for lunch, we shot about two and a half hours’ worth of tape, which covered a thick pile of photos. It turns out that his side of the family shot a handful of pictures, while my grandmother’s side took whole albums worth. As a result, we had to set a large number of material aside where he couldn’t identify any of the subjects. (Sorry Grandma, we did our best!)
We did find a pile of photos my father has never seen, and I got a first look at my great grandfather—whose face is about the size of a pencil eraser in the photo. Grampy’s going to look for his other photos of our namesake tomorrow, and I’ve been warned that he’s not even warmed up yet. He also unrolled the family tree he’s been working on, which dates back to 1854, and fittingly, is written in pencil on the back of a roll of wallpaper.
I was able to pull the video off the camera and onto my iBook with absolutely no problems—however, my iBook is having some kind of issue where it’s missing approximately 30 GIGS of hard drive space. I mean, it’s not there, and I have no idea where it went. I’ve cleaned every cache I can think of and burned off DVD’s to free up space, and run diagnostics: No luck. I’m going to break down tomorrow and pick up an external hard drive to store everything until I can get time to troubleshoot the problem. I had to twist my mother’s arm to get her to come to the local Target with me. The horror!
Update: From this link, I learned to do a simple thing:
Using the Finder’s Go to Folder feature (in the Go menu), look at the sizes of the contents of these folders, by pasting in these pathnames:
Simetimes, backup programs that cannot find an intended destination (or target) volume for a backup create a folder with the same name as the destination, and put the folder into the /Volumes directory. There are cases in which the entire startup volume has been backed up on itself, in a folder inside /Volumes. If the amount of missing space is about the size of your user folder, such a backup is likely to be the explanation. If you use Carbon Copy Cloner and have its preferences configured to create a backup on a schedule, and the intended destination volume is not mounted or is sleeping at the scheduled time, the backup is created in the /Volumes directory.
To check the size of the normally invisible /Volumes directory on the active startup volume, open a new Finder window. Select the startup volume in the list at the left, then choose column view (the one at the right of the three views). From the Finder’s Go menu, choose Go to Folder, and paste in:
The /Volumes directory becomes visible in the Finder; find its size by selecting it and typing Command I. My /Volumes directory is reported to be 12K.
I just found 48.6 gigs of space I didn’t have before, from an old copy of Deja Vu, which was dumping stuff on a ghost volume of my old Powerbook. w00t!
(I could see the ghost drive from the Terminal but couldn’t remember how to delete it because the name contained a space.)
Much of my family history is, to me, a vague bunch of names and dates, people I don’t have a whole lot of contact with, or never met in my life. I’ve gotten more interested in my kinfolk as I’ve gotten older—I think it’s something that comes with the realization that one isn’t 19 forever, and it hits sometime around the second year of mortgage payments. That time in life when one’s friends are all recent parents, and the people we used to shut the bars down with are now on the PTA board.
My grandfather is nearing 90 years old. He’s a retired housepainter. In his prime, he used to load a panel van full of supplies and drive from the Finger Lakes region of New York to Manhattan on Sunday night, at a time when highways didn’t exist. He painted houses in the city from Monday until Friday. Then, he’d load the van back up and return home to his family, and spend the weekend repairing a 100-year-old farmhouse with no insulation or running water, only to turn around and do it again. He has always been a commanding sort of man, the kind of septuagenarian who could still kick ass and play a mean round of golf, even when his backswing was reduced from feet to inches. I remember wiry, ropy muscles in his arms, under a short-sleeve shirt, hoisting my cousins for a tour of the barn. I remember cookouts in the side yard, with he and my grandmother holding court by the Coca-Cola cooler, and cars lined up four deep in front of the house. I remember huddling around the heat registers in the bedroom upstairs, quietly listening to my aunts and uncles tell jokes in the smoky kitchen below. I remember my grandparents full of life, and that’s how I’ll always keep them in my memory.
The last time Jen and I visited with my grandfather, I realized how little I really know about him and my own family. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a picture of my namesake (I am the Fourth.) Travelling in Ireland last year, it became painfully clear to me that I don’t know where my people came from, or when they arrived. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to help Jen’s father get his family history archived, going as far as humping computer equipment to a reunion and scanning every photo album. I haven’t spent nearly enough time with my own family, nor do I know nearly as much about us as I should.
I hatched a plot with my father a few months ago, and got his help in planning for a trip north to sit with my grandfather and talk to him about his family. He has shoeboxes full of photos and reels of 8mm film that may or may not have seen the light of day since the Truman administration. He has letters and pictures and most importantly, his memory to tell the stories behind the pictures, and put faces with names. And luckily for me, as I worked more on this plan, the pieces fell into place faster and easier that I could have hoped.
I mentioned the plan to a friend of mine, purely by chance—I was discussing scheduling for some freelance work. Graciously, he lent me the use of a very expensive professional digital video camera, two very expensive lavalier microphones, and a matching tripod. Junior and Senior will get mic’d, and my father will guide his father through the pictures, getting stories and faces and people straight while I scan and archive everything I possibly can.
We’re heading up there at 9AM tomorrow, and I’m told Grampy has been telling everybody about it excitedly. He’s been instructed by his daughters to shave, wear his good shirts, and behave himself. I’m as excited as he is—there are a ton of questions to ask, and I’m anxious to hear the answers.
This is the living room wall after two coats of mud, a coat of Kilz, and a coat of white paint. Go to Flickr for the full set-I’ll be posting all of these on the houseblog when we get back from Annapolis this afternoon.
I posted the entry for M on the Alphabet Project this morning. Rest assured, there’s nothing showing. This one happened pretty fast (I started it at 6PM last night) and wrapped up quickly, with the exception of the hair and some minor details. I’m getting into a groove here, and it feels pretty good. Having the tools here at the house has made life much easier (the copier is working flawlessly, and having some white transfer paper makes the job 1000% easier.) Now, onto N. Any suggestions out there?