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Accumulating Memories

Freda Isaksen

When my husband retired our children were grown and independent and inevitably we had collected and accumulated boxes of photographs. Pictures of the children, alone and in family groups, pictures of places and people we had visited. Births, graduations, marriages, family events, all were recorded for posterity in black and white. Of course as years went by colored replicas were added. Usually I am a very well-organized person but for some reason or another I had always dumped the pictures in boxes with good intentions of placing them in albums some day, but after initially showing them around very proudly they were forgotten and ignored. The boxes were piling up filled with the fading memories.

Our future plans included as much travel as we could afford so when we started on our journeys we decided that we would collect no more photos and we left the camera at home. But I wanted to have memories of our experiences so I started to collect gold charms which I attached to a bracelet attached to be worn on my arm. I carefully selected each one to be typical of the area where I purchased it, such as a little Buddha from the Orient, a Star of David from Israel, a viking ship from Norway, the Union Jack from London. Each little charm would remind me of the exact place where I found it so each one had a story. The bracelet was easy to take out of a drawer and display or show around, and immediately came to mind events which I could tell about or dream about.

The pleasure I derived from my little treasures was short-lived when one unforgettable day my house was burglarized. Small jewelry items are easy for robbers to steal and dispose of, especially gold that glitters. So by this act of vandalism many personal memories on the bracelet were lost. But life goes on and although many valuable possessions in my home were impossible to replace I was determined to start a new storehouse of recollections of my travels.

By a stroke of coincidence a friend brought me a magnet depicting a Japanese lady, this was a gift from Japan and the idea formed to start such a collection. It was fun to look for magnets that represented each of my vacation stops and gradually my refrigerator became adorned with momentos of towns or countries I have visited, and they tell of specific incidents that occurred there, because I am very selective of my purchases. When visitors enter my international kitchen I show them magnets instead of pictures, in fact each one is a picture, very colorful and typical of its origin.

When I am eating at my kitchen table they are company because of the happy incidents I remember when I acquired them, and the friends and family I traveled with seem to be with me again.

Copyright Freda Isaksen 1986–2006. Permission to reuse for non-commercial purposes is granted, provided that the text is unaltered and the original source is acknowledged. For more information, contact isaksen at

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