Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dear Clayton...

A couple of pages from the book. See all of them at: SouvenirBook81980TreutlenFamilies#

Dear Clayton,

I hope you're having a good time.  Historian that you are, I bet you've been talking to everybody there. How are your parents and wife? Have you seen any of my family?  Have you had a chance to talk with President Lincoln? How about Shag White or Bo Lightning?

Remember that Souvenir Book we did on Treutlen families?  I never did thank you enough for talking me and Windsor into doing it. You did most of the work, rounding up people and even badgering some of them to get up the facts on their families and submit them.  It was one of the best things that either one of us ever came up with.

You left us too soon.  Today we have computers.  Not the primitive machines that you knew, but fast, easy to use computers in many sizes.  All that cutting and pasting is long gone.  There are scanners and software to read records and convert them to letters and characters so they can be reproduced in any size or style... instantly.  I don't have the software to "OCR" (optical character recognition), but, Lord's willing, I will.  In the meantime, this afternoon, I did the next best thing.

I did what you used to do every Saturday evening - listened to the news from Lake Wobegon.  Not on radio, but on podcasts.  You may remember a thing called internet.  It has become as indispensable as the telephone.  It can work through phone lines or through radio signals. Most people take their phones with them everywhere they go; they're wireless.  You wouldn't believe the resources for family histories. So much information is free. The best source for genealogy is called, but it requires a subscription fee. Our library has several computers, just outside the local history room, which are free to the public. Your son is a frequent user of the library facilities.

It took a few hours, but I scanned (like a photograph) the pages of Book 8, the first one about local families. It's on a free website just for my pictures and pages. What this means Clayton, is the book, which is out of print (the first Souvenir Book to have a complete sell-out),  can be read by anyone in the world with internet access.

What do I mean, bragging about modern technology? Clayton, I can't begin to imagine the wonders you are witnessing where you are.

I miss you, old friend.

William A. Ricks 
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