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We grew up in different times—before computers, fax machines, cell phones, heart transplants, fast food, MTV—even TV, for some of us. Just think how transportation, communication, medicine, and social customs have evolved since your childhood. Yes, it was a different world—a world that shaped our choices, shaped who we are today. It’s vital that you re-create that world so your descendants will understand what your life was like.


  • Don’t take anything for granted. Your readers may not understand what you mean if you say that your mother was a housewife. The role of housewives is different today than it was 30 years ago. The same principle applies to other occupations. What was it like to be a teacher in the ’40s? What were teachers paid? What was expected of them?

  • Define terms, such as Flapper, Beatnik, Black List, hi-fi, beehive hairdo. Don’t assume your descendants will know what these terms mean.

  • Don’t forget pop culture. What songs and dances were popular during your dating years? Describe the role that radio and TV played in your life.

  • Describe the hair and clothing styles that were popular when you were growing up. Let your readers visualize what you looked like when you were young.

  • Include current events that were important during your life. Be sure to keep these descriptions personal. Explain what they meant to you and how they affected your life so they become vivid in the minds of readers who only know them as dry, historical events.  How did the Salk vaccine change your life, for instance? What about air raid drills? How did you feel when John F. Kennedy was killed?

The Internet offers all kinds of “context” information to help you re-create “your day.” Just go to a search engine like Google or Yahoo and type in the topic that interests you. You’ll be surprised what turns up.



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