What Do You Keep from the Past? What Story Can You Tell?

A “Backlog of History”

When I give my presentations, I implore the audience to record their histories, get out those old photos, preserve them, etc. I found it interesting this week that as I was reading an essay by Cullen Murphy, Backlogs of History, published in the Atlantic Monthly 1996, I felt justified in my pleas. He had discovered an old hospital bill that his parents saved from the time he was born.

He writes, “I was struck by something else: that among all those decades worth of family documents my parents had looked through, the delivery bill ($186) was the only thing they thought of sufficient interest to pass along.” (I have my delivery bill from 1939. Yep…less than $100!) So what do we keep? What is important to us? What do we leave for the next generations, understanding that the amount of accumulated “stuff’ can choke a land fill if we let it? Murphy asks…”What should the policy be toward children’s drawings and report cards? Toward family photographs and wedding mementos??”

I maintain that the photos are most important. From them we tell our story. Below is a picture of my family at the Park.

Sunday at the Park. What is our story?

Sunday at the Park. What is our story?

And coincident with all that, just this week, I found, in an antique store in Maine, this early photo of Polo Lake at Roger Williams Park in RI. My Dad took us there to romp on many a Sunday morning after church and before we went to Sunday dinner at Grandma’s. I ask you, does this photo tell a story?

Polo Lake, RW Park

Polo Lake, RW Park

I can write stories from these pictures. Can you from yours? Does it remind you of your trips to the Park?

Let’s hear  your story. Is it enough by which we can remember and record the past?

© 2015

By | 2017-07-10T16:10:10+00:00 October 12th, 2015|Family|2 Comments


  1. June champagne November 9, 2015 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    Good morning Dr Iannuccilli,

    Hope all is well with you and your family. The other day I had a “flash-back” re those tags that are attached to mattresses, pillows,etc. I had to chuckle as I was cutting one off a decorative pillow I purchased. I remember as a young child, my brother and I shared the same bedroom. We had twin beds and occasionally my brother and I misbehaved (I know -“me misbehave”) and were sent to our room. My brother was very mischievous and found the tag on the bottom of the mattress. He began pulling and tugging at it until it came off. I was able to read and knew what is said, “DO NOT REMOVE UNDER PENALTY OF LAW”. As he was tugging at it, I remember telling him he should stop or we were going to jail. I was always very obedient and was frightened to death, I could not sleep for many nights thinking the police were going to take us to the “bad boys and girls school”. Well it never happened and we never told our parents. I noticed on the new tags they are only to be removed by the consumer.

    Happy Thanksgiving,


    • Ed November 9, 2015 at 4:37 pm - Reply

      So funny, June. Thanks for reminding me about that onerous message from the mattress makers. Gad, what if we ripped it off.
      Happy Healthy Thanksgiving.

Leave A Comment