I recently stumbled on a few old photographs from the early career days of my grandfather. It was interesting to see him looking so young. Even more interesting, though, was the realization that despite the fact that I'm lucky enough to be able to talk with my grandfather on a regular basis, I really had little to no knowledge of what his career was like. Grandpa retired the year I was born. Other than the fact that I knew he worked at J.C. Penney for most of his career, I had no idea what life was like for him, or what attracted him to the company, and why he stayed with it for so long.
So I gave Grandpa a call, and asked him to share with me a few details about his work life, and in particular, some information surrounding a 1958 photo of Grandpa with Mr. J.C. Penney himself. I was astounded. Not only did I get to hear some fascinating stories about Grandpa's work years-including the time my mother invited Mr. Penney over for dinner, and when Grandpa took Mr. Penney to get a haircut and shoe shine-I learned about why he loved working for the company. As a young woman only a few years into my chosen career, it was so fascinating to hear about why he loved his job, and what the company still means to him today.
The Utmost in Value by Allyson Bright
Have you taken the time to ask your own parents and grandparents about their time in the work force? Learning about the careers of those who have gone before us can be an amazing process, and the results can translate into truly unique scrapbook pages.
Consider conducting a short interview with an important relative about his or her work years. Use these questions as a good starting point:
- What was your first job?
- How many years did you work?
- If you had multiple jobs, which was your favorite?
- What first attracted you to the company you chose to work for?
- How did work change from when you first started to when you retired?
- What is your favorite work memory?
- Did you have a favorite co-worker? Why?
- How did your spouse feel about your job?
- How was your job important to your family?
- Did you work during times of war? How was it different?
- What was it like when you retired?
- What do you miss most about working?
The answers to these questions can be a fantastic foundation for a scrapbook page. If you don't have any photos on hand, ask your interview subject if he or she has any old photographs from his or her career. If not, consider using a different photograph from the time period in which your subject was working, or ask if you can take a portrait shot now. Using a current photograph can provide contrast in your journaling, and still create a unique page.
Be sure to remember that homemaking is a career in and of itself. Perhaps your grandmother never entered the work force, but chances are, she did her fair share of working. The interview questions above can still provide great insight into what her life was like. Be sure to ask how life has changed for her as well!
Regardless of the person you choose to interview, and the career you choose to learn about, you'll likely discover a new level of insight into your relative. Plus, recording the results on a scrapbook page will add new depth to your heritage scrapbooks and provide future generations with a realistic look at what working life was like not so long ago.