When my maternal grandparents wed and headed to America in 1920, it was a huge leap of faith that they would find whatever it was that they were seeking and apparently couldn’t find in their native Denmark.
Sadly, I’ll never know precisely what it was that they were seeking, but they must have found it. They never spoke of any misgivings to me, and they remained here the rest of their lives.
While the cultural and social changes they went through in their lifetimes were huge, indeed, they shared in the major technological shifts that engulfed this country as well. They arrived two years before commercial radio was available in America, but by the time my grandfather died more than six decades later, he was fond of listening to Danish radio on his shortwave radio, often singing along to the music of his youth and sometimes taping his sessions, a decision his descendants are eternally grateful for.
He truly appreciated the new and wondrous technologies his adopted country afforded him, an appreciation that is sometimes overlooked in our fast-moving modern age.
I was reminded of this over Thanksgiving as I filled my fanny pack for a trip to celebrate the holiday with relatives in Omaha. The fanny pack itself is decidedly low-tech, something I picked up for free at an Iowa State Fair a few years ago. But consider what fits inside the pouch that is barely noticeable (to me) when I wear it. In the picture with this post, these items are (from left):
• A digital camera (actually, a photo of a digital camera since the actual camera was in service at the time), capable of storing more than 400 high-quality color images.
• My 80G iPod Classic, capable of storing up to 20,000 songs, or roughly 1,600 vinyl LPs.
• My cell phone that keeps me connected to the world, including my sons in England and California, whom I can call from just about anywhere, and for far less cost than I could call someone 20 miles away 40 years ago.
• My digital recorder, which is cable of recording several hours at the flip of a switch.
I’ve acquired each of these things in the past year and newer versions of each are already available. Many of us take these things for granted, but changes in technology also affect how families behave and interact with each other. Take this into account when you preserve your own family histories.