The print papers just aren't as relevant anymore. The paper today is just a rehash of what I read on line last night. It's old news before the ink even dries on the page. In addition, my on-line content is tailored to my interests. It's more personal, more real, and often more honest because of the freedoms of personal publishing.
One favorite site of mine is a daily digest from History.com.
This mornings entry tells how on this date in 1917 the U.S. ended its search for Pancho Villa. That little gem is of personal interest as my Great Grandfather W.A. Sands was one of the men sent into Mexico to hunt down the famed revolutionary under the command of General Black Jack Pershing. I can look at that history and write about it. I can link to it and add a new and more personal piece to the puzzle of the past.
I have grandpa's diary's. They are filled with day by day accounts of that mission, with a whole lotta talk of the Mexican"working girls" who entertained at their camps each night.
My father says W.A. and his wife did not speak directly to each other for the last forty years of their lives, even though they never divorced, and lived in the same house on Bryden Road until their deaths. In order to communicate, they would direct their comments to one or more of their seven children, -or occasionally the dog.
I have often wonder if that diary might have played a part in their long running marital feud. His diaries don't say. There is not one cross word about his wife or children in those pages. He talks extensively of his missions with Pershing, both to Mexico, and later into WWI France. He talks of his work as the leader of the 42nd Rainbow Division military band, and later of The Great Depression and his work as a business man in Columbus Ohio, but there is not a single sentence in those volumes discussing his personal feelings about his family.
His wife, Tose Sands, kept a diligent daily record too. She logged the weather, who came to visit, what the meals were, who was born and who died, but she too wrote nary a word about their personal lives. Even on holidays like Christmas, the accounts fail to mention feelings about family or gifts, or the joy of celebration.
I think there is a lesson in those musty old books for the bloggers of the future. While a meteorologist or a war historian might find gold in those pages, regular readers are looking for something more...a personal history, with feelings and personal philosophies on life. Entries like that not only teach us who these people were, but it keeps their memories alive, and provides us with a way to connect to our collective past, and relate their struggles to our future.
When I look at the photos in the old family trunk, I often wonder what those ghosts of the past were like. I wish we had more diaries, more personal glimpses into history, and I hope the age of the Internet will make that dream come alive for the children of tomorrow.
When I look into the eyes of those old photos, I want to know who those people were. Don't you?