Of Sleds, Slingshots, and Bicycles: the Memories of Christmas Past

Of Sleds, Slingshots, and Bicycles: the Memories of Christmas Past

A short time ago, my father and I reflected on some childhood memories, and how certain smells or songs could trigger powerful remembrances that would otherwise remain buried. “Memories,” he said quietly, “are all I have.” As the primary caregiver to our mother, he is married yet in many ways alone. His hours are filled with prolonged periods of reflection, and with that time he often writes these memories into childhood stories, life sketches, and anecdotes.

Many of these stories we already knew in the form of family folklore. At family Christmas gatherings, he would tell us the story of The Bicycle or The Christmas Tree, but until now, they were never shared in written form. This Christmas, Kindex helped Leon create a small book of these memories, three of which we will be sharing with you. The first story, “The Slingshot” coincided with a gift of homemade slingshots he presented to his grandchildren. The grandchildren had a riot on Christmas Day practicing their new slingshots on various targets around his home. No eyes were injured, no glass was broken, and amongst the fun, we wove new memories into old ones. We not only knew the story, we became it.

Someday when our parents are gone, we’ll write this story: The story of how Grandpa made 25 slingshots in his woodworking shop, shaping and sanding each one. The story of how, in his loneliest hours, he cut and sewed each suede “flipper crutch” and attached the rubbing tubing. The story of how he made each slingshot unique, painting each grandchild’s initials on the back. We’ll write about how he showed us how to shoot them, and who first toppled the giant pyramid of cups he stacked for target practice. We’ll remember Grandma watching us quietly from her bed in the middle of the family room, knowing that in her prime, she’d beat us all.

Nothing can stand up to the value of memory. It shapes our belonging like no DNA test or ancestral chart can. This year, the story of the slingshot got another chapter, and with each generation more will be added. We hope you enjoy these memories and stories as much as we did.

 


What’s in Your Closet?

I can’t remember what I was looking for, but something on the top shelf caught my eye. It was a red and black Nike shoebox, with “letters” written in black marker on the outside. “These are mother’s,” my mom said. “I got them after she died.” I opened the box, and we sat on the bed, opening letters. Unfolding their delicate pages, I was mesmerized by the handwriting, the words, and the photos that sometimes fell out as we opened them. These were my grandparent’s love letters. I couldn’t put them down.

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The Flexible Flyer

by Leon Chamberlain One of my fondest memories was sleigh riding on my sleigh. When I was growing up in the 1940s and into the 1950s, I believe our needs and wants were much simpler than today’s. When I was a young boy if you had a bicycle, a flipper crutch and a...

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The Slingshot

by Leon Chamberlain When I was growing up there were three possessions that were critical to a boy’s happiness and survival. One was a bicycle, which I have written about. The other was a Flexible Flyer Sleigh which I have also written about. The third is a sling...

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Find What is Lost: Introducing found.kindex.org

Find What is Lost: Introducing found.kindex.org

A few weeks ago I was browsing in an antique shop when a stack of old photos caught my eye. As I examined these portraits and family poses one by one, I discovered names written on the back:  David A. Page. Teddy O. Keefer. Ester Olson. How did they get lost?

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Photo 0020 on found.kindex.org is David Alonzo Page with wife Gilheld “Nellie” Qualseth and children Gladys and Elmer, c1900.

As a self-proclaimed hoarder of my own family records, I couldn’t imagine letting go photos like these. And yet it happens every day. Parents pass away, downsize, or move, and family records are lost or thrown away. Records that do remain are often sold in estate sales, eventually finding their way to antique stores or flea markets where they sold as mere commodities.

Kindex wants to change that. While we are doing all we can to rescue records before they are lost, we created the Kindex Lost & Found Archive as a home for records without families to claim them. Found.kindex.org is a destination where collectors, volunteers, researchers, and family members can work together to rescue our histories by preserving, indexing, and discovering lost family records. There are many ways you can be a rescuer—and you don’t have to own any records to get started.

Rescue by Indexing

Rescue history by transcribing photos, postcards, and other records rich with information. Indexing on found.kindex.org creates a new repository of names, dates, and locations that make thousands of records searchable for the first time. All you need to get started is a free Kindex account and a generous heart.

How to index records Kindex Lost & Found Archive.

MKD-MR-055

MKD-MR-056

Postcard 0016 on found.kindex.org

Rescue by Collaborating

Become a collaborator on found.kindex.org and you can add your own collections of “lost” records to be crowdsource indexed. To become a collaborator, contact us for an invite or go to found.kindex.org and click Add a Record.

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Rescue by Partnering

If you are an antique collector or dealer you can help rescue history by partnering with Kindex and sharing your records on found.kindex.org. We have partnered with some great local antique shops, including Longwood Antiques and Cobwebs Antiques & Collectibles, who have agreed to allow Kindex to scan photos, postcards, scrapbooks, and other indexable records. We, in turn, have agreed to host them in a crowdsourced indexing archive where the records can be searched for and found by their names, descriptions, keywords, and other metadata—all at no cost to them. Records are attributed to the store they came from, so when they are found, researchers can contact the store owner to inquire about the records.

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Who is the cute & mysterious gas station attendant my mother met on the road to Las Vegas in 1959? We’ll learn soon on found.kindex.org.

What’s the Catch?

There’s no catch—just do have a few guidelines:

  • Records added to this archive must have some sort of indexable text that would identify the record to an individual or group.
  • Collaborators who add records to Kindex archives retain copyright ownership. By adding records to Kindex, you are grant Kindex a license to host and create a derivative (i.e., an index) of your records.
  • Record owners may watermark their images so much as the watermark does not detract from or obscure any part of the record.
  • You must follow all Kindex Terms & Conditions. You have an opportunity to review them when you create a free Kindex account.
  • To index records as a guest, or to add records as an archive collaborator, you must have a Kindex account.

Please contact us with an questions you may have, and happy finding!

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