Friday, January 10, 2020


In our study is a chest of drawers, and into this chest, for the past 46 years, I've been putting any piece of paper of sentimental or archival interest, including many photos. Some of these were inherited from my parents' archives.

This week I decided that, on the grounds that I may possibly not live for ever, I should investigate these papers and sort them, hopefully thinning them out a bit.

Some of the photos were really quite old, such as this one of my paternal grandparents, who were born in the early/mid 1880s. I never knew this grandfather and, sadly, this grandmother lived in the south of England from when I was five and then she developed dementia in her seventies, when I was in my teens. But we hardly saw her anyway; the south of England was a long way away in those days before motorways.

They were quite a handsome pair, I think. I'm sorry not to have known him and hardly to have known her.

I did know my other grandparents very well. I don't think I ever realised that my grandfather's will was in that drawer, with this letter to my father (his son-in-law) on the back. How quaint that he signs himself, "I remain yours sincerely Grandpa Campbell" - a mixture of the formal and sort-of-informal. My dad would never have called Grandpa by his first name and Grandpa clearly felt he couldn't sign himself Tom while writing to Dad - even in a letter to be read after Grandpa's death. 

We never called our parents-in-law by their first names either. It was always Mr or Mrs, though it became easier by the time we could just use Granny and Grandpa.

The note on this envelope was written by my other grandfather. "Mother" is his mother. I wonder if he now occupies the "one more" space.

You know how you always think your passport photo is awful, till you have to renew it and you look ten years more awful and think the old one wasn't so bad? Here I am in my 1996 passport, aged 46. I wasn't impressed at the time, but I would settle for this now... I had eyebrows then! And much more hair. Alas.

It's all very interesting - lots of photos of our lovely offspring, cards they wrote to us, cards they made for us, their school reports, various birth, marriage and death certificates of ancestors... It does tend to make me a bit mournful, though. Tempus doesn't half fugit.

Anyway, today Mr L helped Big Grandson to make up the Lego bus he got for Christmas. It took hours. Good old Grandpa. Not quite sure how his knees were afterwards.

So far, the bed in the opposite room has six separate piles on it: photos, general family archives, my own personal archives and three piles of the children's stuff. All of these need to be further sorted and annotated and then archived in some more sensible way. Some things - but sadly not many - are in the waste paper basket. I suppose it's not surprising that 46 years of treasures take more than a weekend to sift through. And there are other more minor repositories elsewhere in the house.

Back I go to the chest of drawers.


  1. A wonderful trip down memory lane! It's always hard for me to get rid of anything, so it might be useless for me to go through the papers and photos. Mr. L. looks delighted to be helping with the Lego bus(incredible!) but perhaps his joy is at being finished and off his knees. :)

  2. Love the bus. I too have been helping Grandson ( 4 ) with making new Lego things. He's very good at it for his age. We gave him a set with Batman, a bat mobile and the Riddler ( which he doesn't really understand yet- but loves Batman.) We also did a wee tractor and a castle. We have to keep little Lego upstairs where smaller Grandson ( 17 months ) can,t put it in his mouth! Downstairs we have Duplo the bigger Lego. It is a train track and train with battery. Noises are included even on the diesel pump! So I too spend quite a bit of time on the floor. ( Nannys in their 70's have to do all this stuff! )

  3. This is so worth doing...I am trying to share many things with my children and it is a monumental effort. I had five parents and have boxes of material about all of them, except one. But I have some material about that one. My husband was the historian for his family. One year he gave everyone a binder with many plastic pages and every Christmas he gave them a significant amount of information. And as the younger generation graduated from college they could request a binder and most of them did. But it is a struggle to remain on top of things. Your photographs are wonderful......And the lego bus is great!

  4. I like the picture of the old people, they look like decent people who would laugh at the slightest thing. I also like the picture of you, I dread to think what my old passport pictures were like.

    Mr. L is very patient...

  5. Here I am: one of the silent readers! Typing up a comment, again, in the vain hope that this time it might actually glide through! Still loving your tone, more and more as I get older and the boys get older...

  6. Oh dear -- how I feel your pain. I love going through old stuff like this, but I hate cleaning it out. Just like you, I have a cupboard where I've thrown pictures/keepsakes for the last many years and now, with the deaths of our parents, I have several more bins to add to my cupboard. As I'm cleaning out closets, I'm adding to the pile, and then, the goal is to spread it out on a big table and do some cleaning in the hopefully, not too distant future. Good Luck with your job -- I'm not too far behind! ;-D P.S. I was going to add -- my big dilemma is those high school year books -- do you have those in Scotland? They're hard-bound books -- we have 4 (for four years) for each of 6 people (hubby and I, and our parents) -- so 24 hard-bound books. They take up so much room and only have a page or two of interest for each person. What to do, what to do? Throw them away??? Maybe just keep one for each person??? Send advice ...

  7. Your grandparents were very good looking. Are you writing names on the backs of photos?