A peek into the past

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It's fun to open a window on your childhood – and see what you said and did. My mother didn't keep diaries of my experiences, as Kelly DuMar advocates. But she did compile an enormous scrapbook that chronicled seemingly every aspect of my life, from birth (she saved the baby bracelet that identified me in the hospital) through photos of my first dorm room at college.

Whenever my family has moved, we've always treated that scrapbook as an "irreplaceable item" and taken it with us, instead of letting the movers handle it.

I get a kick out of a parade of baby pictures in which I'm dressed in one frilly bonnet after another. (It wasn't a fashion statement, my mom explained later. I had almost no hair till I was a year old, and she got tired of answering strangers' questions about whether I was a boy or a girl.)

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Many of the mementos and pictures bring back fond memories: the script of some radio shows I participated in when I was 9 or 10, for instance, and photos of me modeling a succession of new Easter outfits. (Does anyone remember spring coats?)

I wish I could say I followed my mom's example and was diligent about documenting my sons' experiences. I took plenty of pictures, but wasn't very faithful about gathering them all in one place.

Finally, last year I started preparing a photographic extravaganza of memories – vacations, the wonderfully named Chiggers T-ball team, school performances, grandparents. I stare at some and wonder, Who is that boy? Where were we living when that was taken?

I wouldn't want to live in the past, but it's fun to visit occasionally.

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