Not long ago, I was going through some old boxes and I happened upon a collection of school memories – much of which were high school sports related, my chenille letters from high school, junior high and even grade school, articles, report cards and award certificates.
One particular photo was a team shot of my 8th grade basketball team, circa 1972. We were champions of the Pierce County Parks League (Tacoma, WA). It was a highlight in junior high school since we were two-time champions, having gone undefeated during that span. Looking at the photo, it brought back memories, not of the games necessarily, but of those stories behind the photo. I recalled the practices and drills in the gym after school, the Saturday morning games, the coach, and of course, my teammates. I’d lost touch with all of them over the course of high school and the four decades since, but good ol’ Facebook reconnected some of us.
I posted the team photo on Facebook through our high school reunion page, asking if anyone could name the players and coach. The response was one of surprise and offered a moment of reminiscing from 40+ years ago. Most people could recall the majority of the players with a few being difficult to recall or confused with someone else. It was fun to take others on a ‘flashback to the past’ and elicit the ‘whatever happened to’ questions as well as sharing the updates on where people were today.
What I appreciated the most in the sharing this photo was the particular memories from those who played with and against us. One commented on how he remembers the championship game (he was on the other team) and how they lost on a last second shot that I made (he has a better memory than me) – and how mad he and a teammate were on their drive home that day. Another was pure laughter at our Chuck Taylor shoes and uniforms.
However, the best responses was from one of my former teammates. When David saw the photo, he was elated! Unbeknownst to me, his family had a house fire in 9th grade and while no one was hurt, he lost all of his childhood possessions including the photo of that championship team. He shared his memories of our little ‘two year dynasty’ and how not having any physical memory had frustrated him over the years. Now, when he shared his junior high success with his children and grandchildren, he had ‘proof’ that his stories were, in fact, true! He thanked me for posting the photo and asked for a copy to be sent to him, which of course, I did. This simple sharing of a long ago photo rekindled a special memory that I didn’t realize would have such a significant and powerful connection for someone.
Of late, social media has taken a huge hit. Issues such as how people use this to voice their opinions, stances and rhetoric; the bombardment of ads that hit confront us and the strange algorithms that Facebook creates on who sees what, when, how and why. So, I understand why people choose not to be on social media and disdain its existence.
Having said that, say what you will about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the host of other social media out there but if handled correctly and with respect for others, this is a wonderful communication tool that connects the past to the present. The opportunity to share one’s own memories that conjure up even more powerful one’s for others is pretty cool. It’s not uncommon to hear about siblings and family members from foster homes, adoptions, etc. finding one another through Facebook. If this had been around when I was young, I may not have had to wait 19 years to reunite with my biological siblings.
The next time you’re looking through an old box of photos, consider sharing it with your friends and family. While it may appear to be a simple act, you might be surprised how powerful this can be for someone else and their own memories.