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About Hourglass Personal Histories

Family - 2003, Williamsburg

Family – 2003, Williamsburg

We might feel that our “plank is getting shorter”, that we’ve lost family and friends, that the details from these lives could have and should have been better saved.

It’s tough to find the time to start climbing this “story mountain” or to organize and record our histories, so we think, “I wish that I had done that when I had the chance”, or ” I didn’t know where or how to to start”.

I grew up in Williamsburg, Virginia, the oldest of nine kids, each of us nurtured and championed by creative parents. We usually ate dinner together as a family, and stories from all ages and angles were tabled with the entrees…and sometimes long after dessert. Stories are rarely in short supply, anywhere. For us, the good ones were repeated or exaggerated. The risky ones eventually came out, too soon for some appetites.  Others are still fermenting (for the right occasion, if ever) and some have been lost or will never be told. Those times have everything to do with how I feel about personal histories. The lost or disappearing stories are the ones that drive me now.

I’ve been adopting stories for thirty-eight years from different places and times:

With the Napa and Sonoma Valley winemakers and co-ops in the 1970’s as they designed and produced wines and packaging to champion their credibility in world markets.

With the computer manufacturers and retailers who trumpeted and justified in print (magazines) the practicality and the applications of their products in the early 1980’s…before “on-line” was a cliché.

With retailers on the West Coast that became “mail-order” cataloguers in the mid-1980’s… and then on-line retailers after many said that “it would never work”.

With the launch and management of a services and technology “dot com” that delivered turnkey communications in the US and the UK, but that ultimately withered.

During my brother’s three service tours in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan, or when my father-in-law moved into an assisted living facility as his dementia worsened.

From my parents’ histories and their obvious links to the stories of their kids (my siblings) and to my own children.

From the times and the advice shared with mentors or friends who have already passed.

I learned how to listen, to seek out, and to appreciate people and their stories. I’ve tried to improve writing, editing, photographic, interviewing, and technology skills during these decades, because each help to “tame time” long enough to “do some capturing”.

Hourglass is about committing time to connect with folk and to memorialize their histories and stories so that less is missing or lost and so that ongoing, additional chapters can be added more easily.

I work directly with each client. Proven, trusted, partners (designers, writers, videographers) complement the interviewing, recording, writing and editing that kick start each unique personal history. A simple first step is just figuring out what you hope to do and why you want to create a memoir.

Following that, invest the time to make it happen. It will be worth it.

Good luck with your first two steps!

I’m based in the center of Berkeley, California and can be reached at:  jackwalklet@hourglasspersonalhistories.com or at 860-983-1872.