Isn't this a wonderful photograph?
It was taken in the very early 1900's in South Dakota.
I knew these people personally, all except the man standing by the horse -- that was my great grandfather, August. The woman was his wife, my great-grandma, Teresa, whom I remember well. She was a quick-witted woman, clever, and full of life. She lived into her late 90's. The little boy in the carriage was my grandpa Ray and his sister beside him was my Aunt Ethel.
When we think of history, we really shouldn't think about it as "facts and dates" but rather, we ought to remember it in the span of a life. A real life. A life of someone we know today or once knew. When I think of Great-Gramma, I can imagine her going through the Roaring 20's with her young family on this wheat farm. I can see the threshing of the wheat (my dad has pictures of that too). I can imagine her making-do during the Great Depression, living on their fresh eggs, pork, milk, and grinding wheat for flour. I suppose that they lived fairly well since they produced most of what they needed there on the farm. Others who didn't live an agrarian life had it much tougher and often worked on farms for food and a place to sleep.
I can imagine my grandparents excitement when the automobile was invented -- going from this cart and buggy to a Ford. From Fords to fancy cars and airplanes. Later on, they would see men go to the moon and back. Now that's a chunk of history in one lifetime, isn't it? But see how much more real history becomes when we can attach it to a person's life? Since we are a home schooling family, I'm always trying to find ways to make learning come alive and attach itself to my children's brains. Talking to their own grandparents and family friends about the Depression or the War and hearing stories of how they lived their everyday lives really does make an impression on my kids. Not to mention, they learn a whole lot about sacrifice, living without, getting by, hard work, faith, disappointment and challenges which all build the house of Character in a life. Those are the real lessons I want them to learn. In this life, it's not what you know, but who you've known along the way that really matters.