I’m very sentimental and nostalgic. I take after my Dad in that way. He was a keen photographer and when he went to meet his Maker he left behind about 30 photo albums which he had compiled with great love and dedication over many years. Photos were organised in year order and placed alongside special birthday and Christmas cards, newspaper cuttings, letters to and from loved ones, and literally anything Dad thought would be best preserved, remembered and enjoyed for many years to come. I inherited his library of albums and if there is ever a house fire (God forbid!) they will be the first things I save, after myself and loved ones naturally. They are irreplaceable and hold such wonderful memories of all the family. They tell our story. I like to think that when I’m no longer around one of my younger relatives will take great care of the albums and ensure they are passed down to future generations.
I had occasion to look at a couple of the albums last weekend. I went in search of some photos taken of my brother and I in South Wales in 1975. In doing so I stumbled across something I’d written as an eleven year old. My Dad had copied it in his own hand writing for reasons only known to himself but he clearly credited me as the author. In fact I remember writing the original. I had gone away with the school for a week’s holiday at St Mary’s Bay, Kent. It was my first ever time away from my parents and I remember how homesick I was. I wanted to return home as soon as I arrived. I just felt like crying all of the time and no doubt many tears were shed. One day the teachers took us to Romney Marsh and I sat in some long grass with my notepad and pen and just listened, watched and scribbled my observations. Signs of a young writer in the making perhaps? What do you think?
Where I am there is a very cool breeze. I can see a little river. There are quite a few wild flowers around me.
I have just heard the whistle of the miniature railway train. The grass feels very dry because it is very hot. It smells very fresh here. I can smell the wild flowers and trees and grass. I think I can smell the river too.
The dandelions feel very smooth and damp. The buttercups also feel smooth but as I touch it I get yellow on my fingers. The sun shines down upon the trees, and soon the sun dries up the leaves, the leaves turn brown and then fall down, and they’re laying on the ground.
© Alice Huskisson – 1975 – aged 11 years.
Dad was incredibly organised and methodical. Something else I get from him! Not only did he preserve our family’s memory in these albums, but he and Mum kept all of my school work and reports, my birthday cards, drawings and scribbles, cards I’d made for others, letters and postcards I’d sent and received, and they filed them in folders in year order. When I eventually left home they presented me with 8 folders stuffed full of incredible memories and keepsakes. After finding this piece of writing at the weekend I felt compelled to spend some time this morning looking through my folders. I was conscious of how much I was smiling as I turned pages and looked at my funny drawings, essays, stories, ranging from play school right up until my 21st birthday. Most folders concentrate on my infant and junior years.
One thing that brought a tear to my eye was a large piece of paper (then known as ‘kitchen paper’) which had been so saturated in pink poster paint that my brush had washed away the paper creating a big hole in the middle. It was a painting of nothing – just pinkness, and mutilated at that! Why would anyone want to keep it? The answer was clear. My Mum had written in the top right hand corner “Alice’s first painting at play school”. How she must have treasured it (and me) to have wanted to preserve it. How could I ever part with such a beautiful collection of sentimentality? It’s just impossible. It would be like throwing away love. Wherever I live, they will always come too. I would certainly want to save these folders from a house fire.
As far as I know, my parents gave all my siblings a similar collection of folders containing their own very personal memories and childhood treasures. I do hope they have all kept them and still enjoy them from time to time.
What would you save from a house fire, other than yourself and your loved ones?