As the generation that came of age during World War I passed away, my mother assumed the role of preserving the memories of her parents and her aunts and uncles.
A number of her elderly relatives had no children to leave their photos, diaries, and special pieces to, so they handed them along to my mother.
The family treasures like Uncle Albert’s WWI diary and his military helmet were safe in her care. These were entrusted to her by Albert’s widow, Vina. Mom visited Vina in the nursing home and gathered tidbits of family history from her. On the wall of Mom’s writing room hung the whatnot shelf that Albert made.
When her Aunt Bertha died, Mom preserved the photo album filled with vintage black-and-white pictures showing Bertha and the Navajo children in New Mexico where she worked in 1929 and 1930.
Of course, no one person can save everything from previous generations, but my mother made a valiant effort to gather and write the stories from earlier generations of McGhees, Towers, Vinings, Martins, Joys and Kennedys. She served as the family historian or the archivist. She published many of the stories in Kanhistique, but that magazine has ceased publication.
Now the photos, the letters, the diaries and her writings are in my keeping. I’ll do my best to maintain them and feature them for others to enjoy just like my mother did before me.
Here’s where I’ve showcased Albert Vining’s WWI experience: Albert Vining in WWI. The plan for Bertha McGhee’s photos, diary and letters is to make a book with those. We started this project together, but now I must carry it on solo.