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Jess Knows Best! Advice on love, life, and more for the modern geek and geekette!

Jess Knows Best

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I've been appointed "Archivist/Preservationist" for my mom's childhood slides. I started scanning the slides yesterday, and so far I'm quite pleased. I've been able to digitally remove a lot of upsetting scratches, and have begun to host them for the family to peek in on.

Yesterday I came across these two:


These were taken in August 1965 during a family trip to the beach. Completely intrigued with the story of how the ship got to this locale, I looked it up on Wikipedia. Here is what I found:  

The S.S. Catala was laid down in Glasgow, Scotland in 1925. It spent most of its operating career serving the western coast of Canada. In 1958 she was sold to new owners for use as a fish-buying ship. During the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle she was used as a floating "boatel" moored at the Seattle waterfront. After the Fair, she was towed to California and used as a floating restaurant. In 1963 she was brought back north to Ocean Shores, Washington and used as a "boatel" again until she was driven aground by a storm on New Year's Day 1965. Efforts to refloat her failed, and she was left to decay at the beach on Damon Point. Over the years she was vandalized and pillaged, and in the late 1980's a girl fell through a rusted portion of her deck, breaking her back. Her family sued the State of Washington, which in turn ordered the wreck cut up. The Catala was cut down to sand level and buried, until a series of winter storms unburied her in the late 1990's. She was gradually more and more uncovered for several years, until in April 2006 a beachcomber noticed that oil was leaking from the wreck. The State of Washington Department of Ecology cordoned off the wreck, and removed her from the beach. Several endangered bird species nest in the area, including the snowy plover.

Here’s how the SS Catala looked in the years after the shipwreck:

Working on this project has unleashed a hunger to preserving my family’s history, not just through my grandparents and the stories they shared when I was young, but through the actual experiences they had. I'm sitting here wishing I'd been there to see this ship -- wishing I could have gone water-skiing with my uncles and mom when they were kids…

We're approaching an age where this preservation going forward won't be much of an issue. Our future generations will all have digital cameras in hand by age 10 (my son already has our old one), and the ability to create websites on any topic they wish. The preservation will be built into their culture’s subconscious.

Unfortunately, we're on the edge of losing our grandparents' history for good. Our parents keep their parents’ slides in the attic because they don’t know what else to do with them. They don’t understand that a $200 scanner would help them to preserve those memories forever, and a lot of times, they wouldn’t feel capable of taking on the task if they did.

I've got boxes of slides from my mom from the following dates: March 65, April 65, May 65, June 65, August 65, December 65, January 67, July 67, and one from 1971. In total, that's probably 350 photos? I want to know what happened to the rest! Obviously this was a family that wasn't afraid to take about 40 photos a month and get them developed, so I refuse to believe there aren't more somewhere. I want to call everyone in my family and insist that they produce! Now!

So this week, I ask you to do the same. Track down all the slides or negatives in your parents’ attics and get to work. Google has released Picasa 3, which includes easy-to-use touch-up tools for removing scratches and blemishes. The only cost to you will be for the scanner. Who knows, maybe your parents will help you get one if it means you’ll be paying them back with your work.

Good luck!

Ask Jess!

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