In need of present help from the past

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I have never worked this far in advance for any written project, be it school, a newspaper assignment or a Christmas list.

But here goes.

The Tidewater News is publishing a series of editions in the not-too-distant future and we could use your help. The topic of one particular section is to gather stories and photos of yesteryear. That is, stories of what life was like years ago: What did people do on a Friday night, how did people treat their neighbors then, what jobs were available, what stores were shopped, what kind of cars their friends and family drove?

This can be expanded to include answers to such questions as, what was dinnertime like in your house? What was on the table? Was everyone in the family at the table? How many people lived in the same house, and were there aunts and uncles, or cousins, or in-laws, or grandparents living under the same roof?

Were times good and food was plentiful, or were there hard times when food was scarce?

Do you remember a time when there was no indoor plumbing or heat at the house? How did your family cope with that?

When did your family get its first car? Who’s was it? What make and model was it?

Did more people go to church back then or do more people go today?

When did the family get its first television, and when did it get its first color television?

These are the stories we hope we can convince you to share, and we’d like to also ask that you loan us photos that illustrate life in a bygone era, examples of an era not many of today’s residents remember.

This might sound ironic, but such stories of olden days can be submitted using modern technology: They can be e-mailed to us. Photos, too.

Or, stories can be hand-written or typed and mailed. If we know when a photo is coming to the office, we can scan it (which is like making a photocopy of it) while you’re here and you can take it with you when you leave.

In turn, however, we need to install a few rules or guidelines. People in the photograph need to be identified, as does the place and approximate date the photo was taken. Please keep submissions to a minimum: We can’t print an entire family photo album, for example. We may ask for your telephone number so we can contact you with questions. We would never print, nor would we share that telephone number with any one.

If you’d like, we’ll take your name and publish that along with the photo.

There are several ways to deliver that great information to us:

It can be hand-delivered at our office at 1000 Armory Drive in Franklin (please include a return mailing address so we can return it);

It can be mailed to The Tidewater News, 1000 Armory Drive, Franklin VA 23851 (please include a return mailing address so we can return it in kind);

It can be e-mailed to

I intentionally excluded a deadline for submission or when the section will be published. Let’s just say there’s no time like the present to submit items from the past.