I was fortunate to be given a small metal trunk recently.
It contained generations of photos, personal letters and other keepsakes. The letters spanned sixty years and were written not just to one person but between several family members located in Australia, New Zealand and England.
I carefully sorted through all the items putting the letters and photos in neat piles. I glanced at the assorted items of memorabilia and pondered, what does one do with a 75 year old plait of hair and 85 year old baby teeth in little bottles?
I turned back to the letters and photos and conscientiously sorted them into date order then selected the photos that had notes on the back telling me who the people were or where they were.
I carried the pile of letters and selected photos tenderly into the lounge room, placed them on the table and made myself a cup of tea. For the next few hours as I read the letters, and put the photos in perspective, I was immersed in the past.
The letters were handwritten, many in pencil that were faded, but my interest in the story they told made compelling reading as I was transported back in time.
My trunk of memorabilia provided valuable information for research I am currently undertaking for my next book but the people and stories have also inspired a future book.
I thought how sad it was we don’t write letters to family and friends today that will tell generations to come how we lived and loved. Today, communication with loved ones far away is by email, Internet social media and texting; formats that won’t survive and stories that will be forgotten.