Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

December 8, 2014

Yesterday’s Genealogy and Cameras

Filed under: Childhood Memories,Family,Genealogy — Janice @ 8:51 pm

This display was up a couple of years ago at the Austin Genealogical Society holiday dinner:

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This was the old days of genealogy. I could relate to a whole lot here. I typed a lot of family trees on a computer that wasn’t much newer than this one. Ours was a big heavy Royal. I don’t see the silver handle on the left on the typewriter above. How did they return the carriage and move it to the next line? I think it would be a fun experiment to put a computer savvy teenager or young adult down with a typewriter like this and ask them to reproduce a letter. I think they would think it was easy, but would have no idea how it operates:  how you could change the color of the ink or even cut a stencil for the mimeograph machine, how you set tab stops with little metal pieces around the backside, how you could make it space one, two, or three lines, and how you used the small L for a 1 and to make an exclamation you had to use the apostrophe and backspace and put a period under it. We used a lot fewer exclamation points when they took that much effort!!! And I would bet young people don’t know how you put the paper in to get it in straight, how you straighten it if it isn’t, and then how you WHISK the page away from the platen when the page was done.

Fortunately, our family “inherited” a nicer Selectric typewriter before I had to start writing a lot of papers in high school and college. I use “inherited” because I’m not certain the statute of limitations has run out.

The camera in the box above is a great example of a Kodak when the word “Kodak” meant camera to most of us. My grandmother had a Kodak like this one. The little blue bulbs fit into the top so you could take a flash picture. She must have been an early adopter because she had the only flash camera I ever saw until the revolving 4-flashes flash cubes came along. I don’t remember Mamma taking LOTS of pictures, but she always carefully took a few with her precious camera. Then she would carefully put it back into the box (like above) and put it away after every use. She did love that camera and I have many of the square format pictures it took. I don’t know that Mamma ever had a NEWER camera than that one. She might have been like I am: as long as it still works, why would you replace it? I remember her using it less and less (when others had plenty of cameras to record the moments and give her copies). Now I also recall that she always said “make a picture” instead of “take a picture.” As in, “Let’s get everybody together and make a picture.”

The camera on the right is like no camera I ever experienced until I took photography in college. Mark recently inherited several cameras of that era that belonged to his grandfather and his father. He really did inherit them, it was legit. No quotation marks. These were cameras he loved to hold when he was a boy while his grandfather explained all the rings and settings.

I am definitely coming down on the side of NOW IS BETTER when it comes to typewriters versus computers and cameras with film versus digital cameras. But I’m glad I experienced the old kind so I can appreciate the new kind.

The fact that you are reading this possibly moments after I have typed it is still astonishing to me.

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