Tributes & Video Biographies
Sharing Life Stories, Connecting Generations, Preserving Legacies

Legacy Multimedia Blog

“I wish I had met you…”

Posted on January 26th, 2015

For the past few weeks I have been involved in a back and forth phone tag with a potential client.

Each time he’s called me, I returned the call, and each time I called, he was  busy and told me he would get back to me. A couple weeks ago he asked me to send him some more information about my work so I sent him a flyer, and links to several video clips and testimonials. But we never actually had “the conversation” about what he was looking for, how I could help him, and how soon we could get started.

He is a busy man, I get it. I actually have conversations like this all the time. The children are busy with their careers, their families, and their parents’ mortality is not a pressing concept.

Well I found out last night that this man’s father passed away yesterday. He became ill Friday night and by Sunday he was gone. I met his father a few times. He was a lovely man and seemed so vital when I saw him not too long ago.

There are no words to describe my sadness over his loss of his father. The family’s time will be taken up this week in the process of completion and then into mourning. And it may be a long while before they are at a place where I often find people. When they walk up to me and say, “I wish I had met you (insert time) six months ago, before I lost my father.”


Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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Posted in Family Memories, Personal History

When Is Your Memory Truly Forgotten?

Posted on January 9th, 2015


“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.”  — Banksy

While this quote was directly attributed to the graffiti artist Banksy, the sentiment is not his alone and appears all over the place, attributed to several different people.

For instance:

“Some day soon, perhaps in forty years, there will be no one alive who has ever known me. That’s when I will be truly dead – when I exist in no one’s memory. I thought a lot about how someone very old is the last living individual to have known some person or cluster of people. When that person dies, the whole cluster dies,too, vanishes from the living memory. I wonder who that person will be for me. Whose death will make me truly dead?” Irvin D. Yalom, Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy


“There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.”David Eagleman, Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

I’ve read that ancient Egyptians  believed that once your name vanished from people’s memories, you were truly dead.  That this complete erasure was comparable to an eternity in hell.

People are remembered by their legacy, whether it’s public or private. If something you did lives on in the public consciousness, then your name stays relevant and you, (your memory) become immortal.

With the work I do in video biographies, my goal is to create a work of art about your life that lives on into perpetuity, continually speaking your name as well as your accomplishments, thoughts, visions and goals into future generations of your family. By this, our wish is that your descendants who have yet to be born, will know you and understand who you are and that years down the line, your name will still be spoken and you will be remembered.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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Posted in Geneaology, Personal History, Preserving Memories

Alicia Elkort’s Poetic Memoir Of Our Grandparents – “Apricot Preserves”

Posted on November 6th, 2014

My grandmother used to make these amazing cookies for special occasions. They are called Franz Joseph Cookies and supposedly took their name from the famous Emperor of Austria. I’m not really sure the back story on how my grandma got this recipe but it was a family favorite and one that had great pomp and circumstance around the making of the cookies. She resisted giving the recipe to anyone for many years and finally when she was well into her late 80s, she gave me the recipe. When I make them, I use her gifted and typed recipe that is yellowed and stained with cooking splatters. I posted the recipe for these wonderful cookies several years ago. Feel free to bake them and make sure to tell grandma thanks! (The photo on that page is her in her kitchen when she was in her 80s, still cooking up a storm.)

Recently my sister, an extremely talented and published poet, wrote a poem about the making of these cookies. It was published by Red Paint Hill Publishing in the anthology, “Mother is a Verb,”  released May 2014. The poem poignantly evokes the memory of these cookies and of my grandmother and I hope you will enjoy reading this poem as much as I do.


Alicia Elkort

All summer, I sleep on a foldaway
in my grandparents’ living room,
against the open window,
the torn mesh screen
patterning the trees
outside.                         At night,
I breathe
wisps of jasmine and honeysuckle,
fall asleep to the dewy patter of crickets.

 Lightly grease two cookie sheets.

Before sunup,
Grandma wakes me,
a brush of lips
on the crown
of my head.
I stretch my body long
to the scent of eggs,
toast and oranges.

By six a.m. we’re in
the old Dodge Dart
with blue plaid seats,
windows rolled down,
Grandma and Grandpa
in the front seat,
bookends to my little self
lodged between them,
the cool air beginning to warm.

 Grate hazel nuts finely and set aside.  

As we drive the empty freeway,
I take my grandfather’s hand.
Los Angeles disappears,
replaced by wheat colored hills,
cow-dotted pastures, horses,
fences, then row
upon row
upon row
of trees that fly by like a memory.

Grandpa turns onto a dirt road,
tires churning, crunching gravel,
the released whisper of each tiny
rock a hello and a welcome.  We
park underneath an olive tree,
approach the foreman of the orchard.
He hands us a large cardboard box.
Grandpa counts out five one-dollar bills.
Whatever fits in the box will belong to us.

I climb ladders, scramble up rough-barked
trunks, reach across leaves and pluck
apricots from their branches,
slipping the furry globes into the box,
taking something I won’t have to share.

 Sift flour, cinnamon and cocoa together.

An apricot with the blush of red
makes especially good jam.
I fill my cardboard box
only with apricots
with the blush of red.
What doesn’t fit, I stuff
into my shorts and jacket
when no one is looking.

 Blend groundnuts into mixture. 

On the drive home,
the remnants of peanut butter and jelly
on hand made whole-wheat bread
surround me as I lay across the backseat,
my hair drifting into the box of apricots
nestled on the floor.

I grab an apricot,
slowly chew the moist flesh,
throw the pit out the open window
and reach for another
and another
until I fall asleep to the rhythm
of the susurrant engine.

 When cookies are cool, turn one half of them
upside down and spread ½ tsp apricot jam on each.  

Later that night, Grandma
leans into the sugared
dough, her hair hidden
beneath a red bandana,
hands covered in flour.

 Place another cookie on top and squeeze together lightly.

I look over at my grandfather
reading on the couch, his thick
hair parted on the side, combed
into a wave across his brow.  In a quiet
voice, Grandma tells me she had
other suitors, but Grandpa was the most
handsome.  He looks up, smiles at Grandma,
turns to me, rolls his eyes, then laughs.
During the week,
he repairs washing machines.  At night,
every night, he reads National Geographic.

 Dip tops of cookie sandwiches in chocolate. 

I lean into the dough,
touch my grandmother’s hands—
I love the feel of the soft fleshy parts
soft as the skin of an apricot,
soft as kindness.

  Press a whole blanched almond into the top of each cookie.  Then enjoy.

When the cookies
come out of the oven,
we three sit at the table
lit by candles, cleared
of the remnants of dinner.
We sip black tea
while eating cookies,
the wafers made of hazelnuts,
topped with chocolate and almonds,
all held together with apricot jam.

Years later, when
my grandmother is dying,
I take her hands and rub
the soft fleshy parts.  I rub until
the moment blossoms
into the sweetness of jasmine
and the earthy oozing orchard
and the hot drive home
and the hazelnut dough
and the apricot jam
and the sweat of her perfect love.


Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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Posted in Family Memories

Reminisces On My Recent Trip to Turkey

Posted on October 29th, 2014

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I just took a look at my blog this morning and realized it’s been almost 4 months since I wrote anything. My commitment has always been to try for twice a month and I have alerts set on my calendar to remind me of that commitment.

I think that after finishing my documentary and screening it at the end of May, I was just pretty wiped out and creatively drained. I’d worked on the film for 3 years and the work that went into promoting the screening and handling the media inquiries was more work than I had expected. So every time my calendar reminder popped up and said, “time to write a blog post,” I briefly looked into what I was doing and felt that I had nothing to say here, then moved on to something else.

In reality what was going on was that I was taking the time I needed to recuperate from this Herculean task by working on other things; such as finally learning to really use my DSLR camera, crocheting an afghan for my new grand-daughter Hazel, and other projects. I was also getting ready for a major trip to Turkey, a country I had wanted to visit for 20 years.

I returned from Turkey a couple weeks ago and I want to tell you that it was one of the best vacations I have ever taken. I have traveled a lot in my life, and lived in some exotic places. But Turkey was something different for me. The trip I took was an organized tour around the country combining a lot of physical activity such as hiking and swimming in the Mediterranean with museums, archeological locations and cultural experiences. Twice we visited homes of Turkish people for meals and conversations and in one case, spent the night in one home out in the country. It was definitely a cultural experience sharing one bathroom with a family of 7 and three other Americans!

I learned so much on this trip thanks in large part to my excellent guide, Ozcan (pronounced Oz-jawn) who was extremely knowledgeable in many areas, notably history, archeology, religion and culture. His ability to help you see each moment through a lens that reached far back was a terrific gift. What I was struck by was the length of time human beings have been living on this chunk of land 302,535 square miles and with a population of almost 80 million. Excavation points often one civilization layer built upon the ruins of another. the Seljuk’s built their palaces and the Ottomans came along taking the old stones and built palaces of their own. And so it went. At times it was difficult to wrap my mind around this cultural layering; who came first, who incorporated previous cultures into their own and who completely obliterated the previous cultures. So much happened.

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So tying this in with my own passion of preserving stories, like I always do, I have to say that the reason all of this fascinated me so much is that as usual, what remains is what people preserved. What they wrote about to document their lives. For instance the Lycians were some of the most amazing architects dating back some 4000 years ago. However their language is, to this day, un-translatable so the only way we know anything about them is writings from other cultures that happened to document what they observed upon visits. Believing in reincarnation, they built elaborate tombs into the rock walls of the mountains where they buried their dead. Some 2000 years later, the Romans built the Celsius template at Ephesus, which bears a striking resemblance to these burial facades. Were they incorporating the architectural ideas from 2000 years prior? We don’t know.

I came back from Turkey relaxed, tan for the first time in many years, and with my creativity fired up. I now have more projects and ideas in my head than possible time to complete them all. So, what will I do next?

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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Posted in Preserving Memories

My Documentary Screening at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Posted on May 22nd, 2014

Martin Elkort

Sunday May 18, 2014 was the first public screening of my documentary, “Martin Elkort: An American Mirror” at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. It showed to a crowd of about 200 people, which is an terrific turn out for an early Sunday evening, on a graduation weekend.

Anne Wilkes Tucker, The Gus and Lyndal Wortham Curator of Photography, gave a wonderful opening speech where she helped the audience to create a context of what it was like to be a photographer during that time period and how Martin Elkort’s photographs were distinguished by a lens of optimism.

After the movie screening I read a short piece I had written. Here it is for your enjoyment:

I can’t tell how gratifying it is to bring this film – which is really like bringing my father – into this venue. And I thank you for that Marian Luntz, and for all you do for film in this city.

8 years ago, I wanted to capture my parents on film. It’s what I do as my profession. My business, Legacy Multimedia, focuses on telling life histories in a way that communicates who you are to future generations. So it was important to me to gather their stories while they were both still alive and in good health. As an adult, I wanted to know about them in a much deeper capacity then the experiences I had of them growing up. So a lot of this footage of my father was shot back then.

About three years ago, the stirrings of a storyline surfaced after taking on the management of my father’s street photography archives. So I set about pulling clips from that original footage and forming the first version. Honestly, it was horrible, and a bit incoherent, but the line was there, or the arc, as we call it in storytelling.

Like a photographer developing an image in a darkroom tray, slowly the story began to appear and after several tries, and a lot of contribution from my friends and co-workers, I came to what you just saw here tonight.

I grew up with a man who was a devoted father and husband, had several careers, and who had done some photography sometime in the past. But I never heard much about his work. I saw him as he was.

Fortunately, my parents gave me a lot. I learned the skills of being in a family that works, and stays together. I learned to give to my community. My first career was as a social worker. Eventually my artist emerged and I became a filmmaker. Like my father, I too was interested in everyday lives and the stories that become a legacy.

I became an artist, and none of these things would have happened the way they did had my father not placed his camera down, and chose a life devoted to his family.

I sat down to create that legacy with my Dad without knowing what it would reveal. What I saw was that my father did not put a camera between himself and life. He did not spend time staging or crafting images. He focused on a world where life happened on the sidewalks and street corners, beside pushcarts and under boardwalks.

His photos show a dignity in every day life that is often absent in the barrage of sensationalized and over-manipulated images we are exposed to today. We resonate with these photographs because seeing images of a world which no longer exists, and the sense of nostalgia it evokes, gives us an optimism about our own world.

My Dad was a story-teller with a camera. He wasn’t there to serve himself as a photographer, he was there to accurately and simply convey what was going on in the street. And from that perspective it makes total sense that he chose his family over a career as a photographer.

There is so much talent and generosity in this room tonight, and seeing you all here, many of you are friends, makes me realize how fortunate I have been to find my voice as a film maker in THIS community. What we have available right here is an amazing venue for established and new filmmakers like myself. Thank you Marian and Anne, for being the strong clear path for great film in Houston.

Filmmaking is an intensely collaborative process and I could not have found the story in this work without so many of you.
I didn’t set out to be a filmmaker, it just sort of happened. I did not set out to make this film. Yet, after it was said and done, I saw that there was a story in these photographs that had eluded me. Your encouragement, love and support pushed me to make all this happen.

Mostly I want to thank my father for being so generous with his time and stories.

Many of Martin’s photographs are on display at the Catherine Couturier Gallery on Colquitt through the end of May and I encourage you to drop by and see them.

I am proud to offer you the world as seen by Martin Elkort and I am grateful for the opportunity to do so.

Martin Elkort’s stunning photographs from the late 1940s and early 1950s can be seen on his website or at select galleries around the United States.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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Posted in Personal History, Photo Restoration

From The Video Honoree’s Perspective

Posted on April 1st, 2014

I asked my friend, Vicki Samuels Levy to write me a brief perspective on her experience as a video honoree in one of my Legacy Multimedia productions. After all, I write a lot from my perspective; what I’m trying to do with the video, the feelings that I want my audience to experience. I usually get a nice note from my clients and they often agree to allow me to use it as a website testimonial. So I was thrilled when a few hours later, Vicki sent me two pages of writing from her experience. It really made my day, in fact my week, to hear what a positive experience making the video was for her and her family. You tell me what you think.

When the leadership at American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev approached our family in 2013 about honoring the three generations at our newspaper, the Jewish Herald-Voice, we were overwhelmingly flattered.

At the same time, we were relieved that a tribute video to our family would not be created. After all, we quietly get the paper out each week, and work overtime to create five annual magazines. However, something changed in AABGU’s planning process, and we were notified that we had to do a video for the gala dinner.

Grumbling under our breaths, we thought, “Really?!” After all, we’ve all seen tribute videos at fundraising dinners. They are lovely and everyone looks so polished. How could we meet those standards? Furthermore, with our weekly and multiple deadlines, we rarely have a chance to clean up the place. And, the best place to capture our essence is in our office.

We also wrestled with finding the time to think about what we would say. Ultimately, out of the five in our family being honored, four acquiesced to being interviewed. So, Stefani Twyford, working with AABGU’s Deborah Bergeron, and with our input, put together an outline of how the interviews would go.

I think Stefani Twyford had a monumental task – probably greater than any of her other projects. Not only did her crew have to schlep up (and down) a flight of stairs, but they had to set up their lighting and equipment, not two times, not three, but six times! So, one weekend, we cleared our desks, dusted, and straightened our collars.

I was the first to go under the lights. While I wasn’t nervous, I suddenly was at a loss for words for what this great honor meant to me and how important AABGU, especially its Cyber-Security Institute, was to the State of Israel, the Houston Jewish community, and really the world. The crew was so patient and laughed with me when I struggled for words. I couldn’t imagine that anything I said would be usable in the video.

After my debut, the crew moved to my mother’s office, then my nephew’s and my son’s, then to the conference room, where they filmed Deborah Bergeron and two leaders of AABGU. The crew had to adjust lighting and sound for each one.

The five hours of filming was remarkably distilled and expertly edited to nine minutes. Not only that, but the office clutter didn’t even show up!

We didn’t get to see the video before it aired at the gala. I understate when I say, Wow! How did they make us look and sound so good? I was so impressed with how Stefani wove the stories of AABGU, Ben-Gurion University and its new Cyber-Security Institute, and the part my parents played in the beginning of AABGU in Houston and how the Jewish Herald-Voice continues to play a vital role in informing the Jewish community about breakthroughs at BGU. (All in 9 minutes!) Rather than feeling embarrassed that we were on the big screen(s), I was drawn into the story that Stefani wove. Isn’t that amazing?

Besides feeling good about the video – Stefani did find something intelligent I said and I appeared in the video three times. We received so many compliments! The one I love the most came from one of our staff members, who has been with us for 13 years. He said, “I was watching the video and I thought to myself, ‘Who are these people? Are these the same people I work for?’ ”
That’s how good it was!
Thanks so much, Stefani, and to your staff. I’ve seen many videos you’ve produced at many dinners. Gotta say: I don’t know how you do it, but this is my favorite one!

– Vicki Samuels Levy, president, Jewish Herald-Voice

If you’d like to view the video, use this YouTube link and hopefully you’ll give it a thumbs up!

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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Posted in Uncategorized

“The Great Beauty” And The Small Moments In Our Own Lives

Posted on January 14th, 2014

The Great Beauty

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of watching La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty), an epic Italian film in the style of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, but with more cinematic greatness achieved by the advances in technology since the 1960s as well as a more existential examination of life. It was truly captivating and I am planning on a second viewing next week as the MFAH is bringing it back for an encore. Since I saw it, it has won a Golden Globe for the Best Foreign Language Film, something it truly deserves.

There are lots of scenes of Jep, the protagonist, sitting and staring out at his view of the Coliseum from the patio, smoking a cigarette in his apartment, or talking with his housekeeper. He has a life of leisure comprised of wild parties and social events, punctuated by moments of intense introspection and reflection on his life, what has happened, and what it all means.

Because these moments were part of a gloriously beautiful film, the scenery and lighting were not something I could relate to in the day-to-day playback of my own life. But I have often commented on the small moments of boredom and repetition we all experience. Those moments strung between the peaks and valleys we remember as memoir. We don’t think about taking our dog for a walk or volunteering at the food bank, while we do remember our vacations or the first time we saw our grandchild. These peaks and valleys tend to have emotional poignancy that authenticates the experience of our lives, while the small moments are the times for maintenance and reflection. Without them, I think we would live in a constant state of overwhelm.

Jep has nothing else to do but contemplate these moments, he doesn’t have to manage the industry of his own life. Even though Jep doesn’t have to contend with laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills and updating his Facebook profile, I was affected by the eloquence of the small moments of his life and wondered whether he had ceased to see the their magnificence. For the rest of us, we are consumed with these tasks.

I remind the people I work with about these moments and that they often make a good place to mine for memoir. What is it like to have dinner with your family? What is it like to walk through your house late at night, when the rooms are deserted? Or sit out on your patio, having a glass of wine and enjoying your own view? I think that as we become accustomed to a certain quality of life and it’s repetition, these moments becomes ordinary and our ability to see “The Great Beauty” dulls. I think it’s important to be aware of this and recognize there is great beauty in our lives and the generations that follow will want to know about these moment and how we see them.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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Posted in Family Memories, Personal History

2014 Memory Jar Project

Posted on December 31st, 2013

2014 Memory Jar

2014 Memory Jar

I have been reading about the concept of “Happiness Jars.” In Elizabeth Gilbert’s blockbuster memoir “Eat, Pray, Love” she started a project where she would write down things that have made her happy each day on little slips of paper and put them in this large glass jar. By doing so every day, eventually her jar would overflow with happiness.

I am proposing something similar but let’s call it a Memory Jar or more aptly, the Memoir Jar. Starting tomorrow, January 1st 2014, make a little note when something memorable in your life happens. You finally cook that amazing Paella, you finished the needlepoint you started 15 years ago, reminiscing with your grandmother, the new client you got, whatever happens to you this year that makes you pause a moment and smile at the poignancy you are a part of.

Write it down. Not a big drawn-out autobiography or journal entry. A little slip of paper that represents a moment. Put them in the jar. The point of all this is at the end of 2014, you will have a jar full of moments that have defined your year. These moments are what define our lives; a string of them laid out, from year to year that we look back on.

Being a creative, I can see all kinds of possibilities for projects with something like this. Animating the little slips into a short movie. A Year In The Life. A book project with photographs to go along with the slips, the possibilities are endless.

If you take this project on, please let me know and let’s see what you’ve created this time next year.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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Posted in Family Memories

My Reality of Attending a School Reunion

Posted on October 28th, 2013

I recently attended my 40th class school reunion out in Southern California. There was a whirlwind of activities, two parties on a Friday night, the real reunion on Saturday night and then a brunch picnic the following Sunday morning. I didn’t attend the brunch, choosing instead to have breakfast with a small group of woman I have known since I was a very young girl. It was a good choice. It allowed us an intimate time to reflect on our lives and the past two days, and I didn’t want to leave.

In the work I do, reunions are a common scenario as people choose life cycle events as a way to honor and celebrate. Whether it be a family reunion, significant anniversary or birthday, memorializing it with a tribute video is one way to celebrate and create something as a memento. So I  get to experience a lot of people’s reunions through a professional lens.

For me, I had an unusual school experience. I grew up in the same town in Los Angeles and went to one specific school with the same group of people through 7th grade. In 8th grade, my father got a wild hair up his behind and moved our entire family up to Fairbanks Alaska where he ran an amusement park themed around the Alaska Gold Rush. We lived up there for a little over a year and I didn’t get to be part of my 8th grade school graduation. Then we came back to LA where I went to the local High School with my old group of friends and stayed there for 2 years. Then we moved back east and I attended a different school (that’s a story I’ll save for another time) and graduated with that group.

The important thing to remember here is context of time. Back in those days, there was no internet or social media. When you left somewhere or someone, it was for real. A goodbye was a real goodbye. Not like now where you say goodbye to someone and then see them three hours later on Facebook posting photos of their time with you.

If you left somewhere, you would not see these people for years unless you physically wrote them a letter or called them on the telephone which was a long-distance call and could be quite costly. I obviously lost track of a great many people.

Going back to my hometown, seeing a lot of these people after many, many years was a joyous experience. It was in many ways a coming full-circle for me. To be able to followup with people I had unwillingly lost touch with helped confirm a lot of the things I knew about myself and my life. At one of the Friday evening parties, my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Durocher, was there. We were her first class out of college and she must not have been more than a dozen years older than us at the time. I remember her so well and I remember my own joy and anticipation as the class bought her a puppy, and all the things that went with it, as a parting gift at the end of the school year. She came with photos of the dog, which she kept for 14 years, as well as other photos of the class and all the teachers at the time.

Connecting with so many old friends again, what really struck me was how easily I slid back into talking and being with all the people I was good friends with back then. It felt like the years had never passed. The personalities and energies that had us originally become friends was still there and it was so easy to reconnect without having to catch people up with all the minutia of the years in between. Some of us will be using this as a launching point to continue our friendships into the future, while for others, we may not see each other until the next major reunion.

I find that at social events, I’m either there 100% present, or I am behind the camera trying to document the event. I can never seem to manage doing both successfully. So I ended up the next day with maybe 4 or 5 photos on my iPhone. Photos trickled onto Facebook over the next week or so and a wonderful group photo was taken although I haven’t seen that yet. I wish I had taken more photos because, if you’ve been paying attention in class, the physical memoirs are all we have after our own memories are gone. But I am also aware that this was something much bigger. That I took part in something that wasn’t at all concrete for most people, and what lives in my memory will be something more important that I can share down the road,  with my friends and family.

Still… having said that, I’m now thinking of  ways to gather up all the photos that were taken that night and create some type of montage! You can take the girl out of the profession, but you can’t take the profession out of the girl.

Stefani Twyford is a personal historian sharing life stories, connecting generations and preserving legacies. To learn more, visit her web site, find her on Twitter as @stefanitwyford, visit the Legacy Multimedia Facebook Fan Page, or send her an e-mail.

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Posted in Personal History

Photographer Rachel Phillips; Field Notes

Posted on September 8th, 2013

Sometimes you see something visual and it just resonates with you on such a deep level that it starts the beginnings of an interest, an obsession, or even a love affair.

I was in the Catherine Couturier Gallery a couple months ago and came across a few pieces by artist Photographer Rachel Phillips, who considers herself a photographer yet uses her photography in such a unique manner via a transfer process that all her art works are one of a kind, completely unique. In her work entitled “Field Notes”, she transfers images to old letters, envelopes and aerograms. They are personal, in that each has a cancelled stamp from somewhere, and the name of who sent it or who it was sent to, some with letters or personal notations.  I had expressed some interest to Catherine, the gallery owner, and she said, wait a couple of months, Rachel has a show coming up and was bringing in a lot of new work.

Here is a video of her process:

Well the show’s opening was yesterday evening. Knowing that I wanted to purchase a piece for myself, I went in earlier in the afternoon and with the gallery to myself, I wandered around deciding and then un-deciding many times until I finally picked out two pieces that spoke to me on various levels. I loved the imagery on all of them, but one of the pieces held a personal connection for me in that it was an envelope, obviously fan mail, sent to Norma Talmadge, the silent film actress. The postmark date on one envelope is 3 11 1928. My first son was born on 3 11. The letter was sent to her care of United Artists in Hollywood California, where I grew up. The image is one of a child sleeping in a four poster bed, hunkered down under a duvet. One of the other elements in the piece was an envelope sent to someone in Staten Island New York from France. My family immigrated through Staten Island in the early 1900s. I was born in New York. I grew up in California, well I’m sure you are starting to see the connection to the piece.


Here is the second piece I bought below and it will eventually belong to my new grand-daughter, but for now, I will enjoy it. It’s called Greenwald Girl.

Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 1.22.28 PM
The opening was great and I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Rachel for awhile and she explained how she ‘found’ this medium of expression. I am always excited by that; how people’s inspiration gets set on fire, what starts the process that becomes a project, a career, a life.

This morning, in the afterglow of excitement from purchasing her pieces and meeting her, and loving her show, I went to her website and found this in her Artist Statement:

“So often in our daily lives, our attention is fixed on the future—planning for Tomorrow.  And as artists, too, we rush to make new work, to take new pictures, to create, always, something new.  But what of the past?  Past lives?  Past work?  Past pictures?”

“The images are printed on old envelopes collected from around the world; artifacts from the last centuries. What did the envelopes contain? Where did they come from? In whose mailbox were they delivered? What stories do they tell?”

The key clicked in the lock. Well of course I love her work. We are committed to the same vision, telling stories that explain the past and honor those who came before us. Like detectives, we work with what we have to tell a story, usually of something that happened a long time ago, that connects to the audience on an emotional level. We are both committed to preserving history.

Rachel’s show will be up until October 19, 2013 so if you’re in Houston, you’ll have plenty of time to stop by and take a look at her work. Let me know if you do, and stop by here and leave a comment letting me know what you thought.

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Posted in Multimedia Storytelling, Photos & Snapshots, Preserving Memories