laurie ruettimann wrigley field

I was born in 1975. My brother was born in 1978. Our parents were youngish baby boomers, and my dad was very nostalgic and sentimental. He loved to take pictures of everything.

laurie ruettimann

Unfortunately, there was no good way to preserve photos from that period. My father doubled-down on 35mm slides. He “scanned” our childhood images to photographic slides that can only be seen through a slide projector.

(Do you kids even know I’m talking about? Damn youngsters. See links above.)

I recently discovered about 700 slides in my basement. Not the ideal conditions for archival footage. For my brother’s birthday, I took advantage of a Facebook coupon and converted those slides to digital images through Legacybox.

(Facebook advertising works! My brother said, “These photos are amazing. Thank you.”)

I’m glad he is happy. I am the opposite of nostalgic, but it is fun to see photos of the 1970s and early 1980s. Wrigley Field looks different. Clothes are funny, too.

laurie ruettimann wrigley field

For the first time, my brother was able to see his childhood. That’s pretty cool, right? I remember him looking like this.


Nostalgia is a slippery slope, however. It’s great to see my parents and family members look so happy and normal in the digital images. Everybody looks like they have potential, which is nice to remember. But then life happened. Just like many of you, my family has experienced its fair share of trouble. If I let nostalgia fester, I fear that it will lead to maudlinism.

(Who has time for that?!)


The nostalgia loop is powerful and seductive, but every moment spent looking back for the sake of looking back feels a little pointless to me. It is intellectually lazy to think that what our childhood offered was better or sweeter or simpler than what we have today.

(That’s rarely true.)

And in order to make progress in life, you have to believe that tomorrow holds the possibility of something greater than yesterday or today.

(Otherwise why bother?)

So I’m torn between celebrating these images and storing them in another box — in the cloud — and never looking back. It’s amazing to see photos of my childhood cats, Taco and Biggles. It is fun to see my grandparents and family members looking so young and carefree. But sometimes enough is enough.


  1. Completely agree Laurie. I lived in the same house from the time I was born until I was 16. Sometimes I still miss it and all the memories that come along with neighborhood friends. It is good reflect every now and then; but only when it finds you. The only thing better than past memories are future ones. That is what everyone should strive to do

  2. Great post, Laurie.

    I went through a lot of this a few years back. My mother died, my father sold our house, and we had family photos transferred to digital so everyone had access.

    It was also the reason behind my interest in genealogy. I was the youngest, by many years, and a lot of people had, you know, died by the time I was around and walking.

    Doing family tree didn’t lead to a Grand Revelation or anything, but it did help me figure out a bit more about my mom and dad. (Made it worth price of admission for me.)

    It’s a matter of degrees, as most things are. Taking inventory of where you’ve been? Never a bad thing. Living in the past or pining for the road not chosen? Meh.

    (PS don’t get rid of the images. Park them somewhere or burn them to a DVD/CD that is tucked away, but keep them around. Give yourself an option)

  3. I love old photos. I’m making a family wall in our apartment, and working on getting some meaningful pictures from all sides of the family so my daughter can have some sense of history.

    What I keep in the back of my mind when going through old memories, is something that happened when my paternal grandmother passed away. My dad had two sisters, and they were keeping EVERYTHING. Costume jewelry (what my great-aunt always called “Polly’s damn pecans”) nail polish, makeup, empty perfume containers, you name it. It’s like they thought by keeping her things, just as she had them, that they would be holding on to her more tightly.

    Over the years, I’ve lost more family members than I want to think about, but I try to remember that keeping their memory is not about the stuff. It’s not about pictures. It’s not about keeping every picture. It’s about what we learn from it, what we keep in our hearts, and the lessons we teach to others.

    I think I honor my Granny more with my need to feed everyone for a twenty-mile radius, or my love of shoes than I do with a stupid pecan bead necklace or a box of junk in my storage unit.

  4. Love the pictures, Laurie!

    I’m currently involved in an early stage startup called JamBios that is all about nostalgia, reminiscing and biography. Interestingly the word nostalgia was originally coined to refer to a disease. (Thus the -algia suffix.) Today researchers have found that there is great pleasure in reminiscing.

    Let me know if you’d like to be on the invitation list for the pre-launch and I’ll see what I can do. 🙂

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