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what is your earliest memory?

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

over the weekend, my mom and i visited my grandparents and i brought my camera along with me. a few weeks ago my mom came to me with a project idea that involved interviewing my grandparents about their childhood. she wanted to learn about any memories, stories and long lost facts about my grandparents past before they were lost in history. we decided that it would be a good idea to individually ask my grandparents open ended questions and record their answers, questions like, "what is your earliest memory," and, "what can you tell me about the house you grew up in?" my grandparents absolutely lit up when they recounted stories of playing 'kick the can' with their neighbors in the street, memories of their first cars, and details about their parents. this project started with my mom wanting to know more about her relatives that she never got a chance to meet, like her grandparents on my nana's side, and her great-relatives on both sides, and it evolved into detailed stories about their childhoods. interestingly enough, my grandparents had very similar first memories. it was around 1945. my nana said she remembered the war being over, and remembers everyone running into the streets to celebrate. my grampy said he remembers right before the war ended, when someone knocked on the door asking his family to turn the light out in an upstairs room of their house. it was a safety issue when it came to paranoia involving enemy planes flying overhead.

i filmed my nana first, asked her a list of questions, then filmed my grampy second, asking him the same questions. then, i filmed both of them together and asked them about their relationship together. they both grew up in Salem, MA and lived two doors down from each other their whole lives, but only started dating when they were 13 and 14 years old. their lives were coincidentally intertwined from the start, and it was really beautiful to watch them recount the start of their relationship.

above, i have posted my list of questions for anyone who wants to emulate this project on their own for their own grandparents. (or any older relatives) i found this personal project extremely fulfilling and it was lovely to watch my grandparents really dive into their past and willingly share with me details of their childhood. i hope that everyone gets a chance to ask their older relatives about what life was like when they were kids, even if it's just a casual conversation. feel free to use this idea and my questions to learn more about your relatives!

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