Tag Archives: memories

A Grandfather’s Notebooks

What an amazing story. Lauren Blank received a wonderful gift when she turned 16 recently:

Her grandfather decided the time was right to share a special gift with her: three notebooks filled with her grandfather’s writing, documenting all the time they spent together from the time Blank was 2 until she was 5.

He documented every encounter the two had together.

“(Each) notebook is just filled with daily things that we did,” Blank told Buzzfeed. “We went to the zoo a lot, and flew kites, and throughout the notebooks he gave me advice.”

I wish I had something like this from my own grandparents, though I do have a notebook with things my father jotted down about me. I’ve also written a lot of memories about my niece and nephew as they’ve grown up, and I sometimes think they might like to read them, but they’d have to wade through a lot of other crap in my notebooks!

Read more at: Man gives granddaughter notebooks filled with years of written memories | Boston 25 News

Notebook Addict of the Week: Landon

This week’s addict has some advice for you: Write It Down. Now..

We need to write things down.
I’m not talking about a to-do list. There are plenty of apps (I user Clear) and this is not one of those articles. I’m talking about the things running through your brain right now: your week ahead, thoughts on life, business ideas, an account of your weekend, major life events, little thoughts that seem insignificant now but may one day bring a smile to your face or a buck to your bank account.

And here’s some of the notebooks he’s been writing things down in:

Read more about his methods and some of the random fun things his notebooks contain at Write It Down. Now. | al.com.

A Notebook Accidentally Thrown Out!

A sad tale!

I am not the sum total of my tattered alphabetical notebook, which currently lies in the slush of the Wellington tip, but that slice of old technology was a part of me. It must have disappeared when I emptied out the contents of my waste paper bin, congratulating myself for remembering collection day, but forgetting to check the contents. As is so often the case when I congratulate myself, disaster followed.

Read more at Tattered Notebook Held Rich Memories | Stuff.co.nz.

Notebooks that Lead Down Memory Lane

Here’s something that will ring a bell for many of you, as it did for me. It’s amazing how you can lose track of your tidying up when you get lost in the memories that old notebooks conjure up!

So here it is another new year, and here I am once again, picking up and cleaning up, getting rid of the old to make way for the new, editing and shredding, filing and piling, giving away and throwing away – all in an effort to tidy up the past to make room for the future.

It’s a daunting task.

I am not a collector, but you live long enough and you end up collecting things. Handprints your kids made when they really were kids. Greeting cards that go back 50 years….

… And notebooks. Dozens and dozens of notebooks.

I started with the notebooks, because boxes full of them are crowding my office: white reporter notebooks, which I have been using for 35 years.

They live in cardboard boxes, 2006 mixed in with 1985 and 1992 and 2001.

The wheat from the chaff. That was my goal. That’s all I had to do. Look inside these notebooks, give them a cursory read and decide what to keep and file, and what to throw way.

But it’s all daunting. Cleaning up and organizing, staying focused and on task – impossible, because here’s the thing. You cannot look through notebooks or greeting cards or books or records or even a drawer full of scarves without losing your direction.

You may be aiming for the future, eyes on a clutter-free tomorrow, heart in the right direction, but then you stumble upon a sentence, or a signature, or remember a song and where you were and who you were when you first heard it. Or you hold a knitted scarf in your hands and see the sweet 11-year-old who knitted it for you, her first real scarf, and all of a sudden you’re not looking at the future anymore, you’re not even in the present. You’ve been hijacked to Memory Lane.

via Is there room for the past in the future? – The Boston Globe.

Harvard Square Notebook, late 1960s-early 1970s

This notebook has a lot of sentimental value for me, as it belonged to my father. I remember seeing it in his desk when I was a kid and wishing he’d give it to me– my notebook lust started at a very young age. But I wasn’t supposed to be poking around in Dad’s desk, and I never saw him actually writing in this notebook– so to ask him for it would reveal that I’d been doing something naughty! But when I was going through all Dad’s papers after his death last year, I found it again, still in the same drawer where I’d remembered finding it 30 years earlier.

The notebook was bought in the Boston area, I’m guessing in the late 1960s or early 1970s based on a few dates noted within. The cover says that it was distributed by Brooks, of Melrose, MA– this was a drugstore chain which has now been absorbed by Rite Aid. I love how the notebook was marked down from 29 cents to 23 cents!

What’s most fascinating to me about the notebook is the window it provides into my father’s mind. He was always compiling lists of numbers– data on various things such as the economy, household projects, etc.– and jotting down books and music that he wanted to buy.  This notebook was no exception. The page below was gas mileage tracking:

The next one has a company address, and seems to note that they sold a certain type of ring binder for holding film negative strips, which he must have bought as he had several that held old negatives and slides.

My dad was pretty obsessive about his lawn, and obviously did extensive research on the topic, though I’m not sure if his huge book collection actually included the title noted below:

There are lots of other weird things like this– notes about rainfall, distances between streets in our neighborhood, the heights and diameters of various food product cans, and lots of other cryptic numbers whose meaning I’ll never know.

But the best thing about the notebook are the pages below (click on the images for a larger view). My father always liked to tell stories about the funny things I said as a toddler, and this was where he wrote some of them down. The dates indicate that I was between 3 and 5 years old, and I have to say I’m kind of impressed by some of my attempted vocabulary! I’m also a little embarrassed by a few things– how did I manage to think there was a fairy tale called “Pencil and Gretel?”

My mom was pregnant with my little sister when I was about 4, which is where the “baby might be ready to blast out” and “open your mouth so I can talk to him” comments came from. Notes on other pages have me talking about my dad’s “poundcake check jacket” (i.e. houndstooth) and saying I was going to “deject some blood” into a patient while playing doctor! (But I don’t know who “Dr. Turnoff” was.)

Inside the back cover were more quotations, and a slip of paper where I’d done my best to write the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme.

My father was not a very emotionally expressive man– though I always did know that he loved me and was proud of me, it still means a lot to see these concrete signs of it. This will always be one of my favorite examples of the way notebooks can preserve precious things.

Thoughts on Journaling

From The Unfolding Moment, this is a lovely post about the ups and downs of keeping a journal, and now it feels to go back and re-read old journals: Reflection: Leave the Roots On.

Every once in a while, I become reacquainted with old notebooks.

My life is flush with them: sketchbooks and art journals, commonplace books of other people’s poetry, binders of old poems and nonfiction and school papers. scrawled journals chronicling nearly every developmental phase—the identity crisis we call “adolescence,” a bleak period of young adult depression, the secondary identity crisis known as graduate school.

I liked the images she shared from her various notebooks, which you can see in the original post. One of them is a jotted quote, from a poem, I guess, which reads


whatever you have to say, leave

the roots on, let them


And the dirt

Just to make clear

where they came from

-Charles Olsen

She concludes:

The only thing that doesn’t change is the urge to document what’s happening. There’s not really a specific motivation. It’s not just about keeping a record for myself, with an awareness of how helpful it is to touch base with all of the old myselves. It’s not just a means of expression for difficult or confusing or overwhelming feelings. It’s not just because I would like someday to share some of these journals with my children, or to revisit them in difficult parenting times as a way to remember what’s hard about being four or 14. It’s not just because I want to leave as many marks on this earth as possible in my time here.

It’s also just because I am compelled to do it.

I’m sure many of us can identify with that.

Throwing Out Old Diaries?

From an entry at 43 Things:

Got to get a new one

I threw away all my old diaries becuase they were just bad memories and the bad energy just made me miserable. I feel lighter now that i got rid of them… Time to start a new journal. One that contains happy thoughts and feelings! I’m so excited =)

Could you ever throw out your old diaries? I couldn’t. They may have some bad memories in them, but I think those are just as important to keep as good ones.

Starting Early: Kids Who Love Notebooks

I think this photo is adorable:

It’s from a blog called The Lily Pad, where the child’s mother writes:

Her favorite thing is notebooks. Big notebooks, tiny notebooks, spiral notebooks, journals, blank pages, lined pages; she loves them all. I hope the love of art and writing and her imagination and creativity stay with her all her life.

Read more here.

My parents have said I was always going around with little folded up bits of paper and I remember loving notebooks from my earliest days. How about you? Did your notebook fetish start before you could walk?

Do You Remember Your First Notebook?

I don’t remember my first notebook, but my mother claims I was folding up pieces of paper into little books and carrying them around with me from at least the age of 3! Later, I remember having those little square datebooks that Hallmark shops used to give away for free–the ones that listed all the birthstones and wedding anniversary gifts on the inside cover! Then I had various 3×5″ spiral notebooks, and some little diaries that were given away to members of the Harvard Coop.

These were the roots of my obsession– what were yours?