Discovered: Family Buried Treasure

This post is sponsored by Legacybox.Tracking Pixel

Before social media, before digital cameras, before Instagram feeds and Snapchat accounts and phones you can whip out and record at any given notice, there were memory-preservers who took pictures of first steps and family vacations on film and tapes and–if you were anything like my family–the favorite medium…slides.  A good Friday night in our home was snuggled up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and a nice crowd–cousins, grandparents, friends, people from church–it didn’t really matter. We’d sit in the dark, staring at the screen my dad rigged up from a white sheet and some clothes pins, and wait for the next click of the slide tray. What picture would be next? Click: a baby. Click: an exotic landscape from a missions trip. Click: an oldie of my grandma pulled from the archives–immediately followed by oohs and ahhs or the occasional burst of laughter. Family slide shows were a regular thing when we got together…until gradually they disappeared. Slides boxed up and put in storage. Projectors sold or given away because “who needs this thing anyway?”

This is the part of the movie where the wind blows sand over the buried treasure, scene fades and then the screen says “30 Years Later,” reopening with a modern world setting: digital girl (that’s me) holds arms open for giant toolbox-looking thing that her dad hands over. “There’s hundreds of them,” her dad says. “It will take forever to go through.” Toolbox-looking thing happens to be the Holy Grail–at least one of them our grandpa left. It’s filled with hundreds of old slides, many of them with handwritten captions my grandma scrawled on the cardboard edge: Ricky’s WeddingJapan; Florida, 1976. And if anyone understands this is the Holy Grail, it’s me. I speak fluent Memories and Family Photographs.

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I know there are stories I’ve never been told buried in these slides, and I can’t wait to get my hands on them.

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That’s where Legacybox comes in. They preserve any format of outdated memories, from VHS tapes to Super 8 film, digitally–so you can relive them, again and again. Legacybox sends you a kit that you fill with any formats in your collection, then send it back pre-paid. The kit includes a guide, round-trip shipping, crush proof box, and personal concierge so you can talk to an expert any time.

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And kits are organized with barcode stickers and online order tracking to ensure your memories stay safe throughout the whole process.

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Because we weren’t completely digital when Lainey was born (we were still using old video tapes), we also had videos of Lainey’s first year on little tapes that we never took the time to convert. Meaning we’ve NEVER SEEN THE VIDEOS. So I threw those in our Legacybox with the old slides and sent all those memories on the trip of their lives.

And then I waited. Because Legacybox knows memories are precious, they sent me updates on where those babies were on their entire journey.

Christmas finally came last week. The doorbell rang, with thump. The box had returned. In it? All those memories in their original form plus a stack of DVDs and this little drive.

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I plugged it in, and a whole new world opened up. My shovel hit the buried treasure.

What did I discover?

Well, for starters, I discovered where I get my fashion sense. HELLO, PATCHWORK GRANDMA, I LOVE YOU!

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I also discovered that, while both my parents were raised conservatively in the Free Methodist Church where rules included no dancing, no face cards and no “hard play” on Sundays, secretly they were rule-breaking rebels. Fist bump, Mom & Dad.

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I realized I’ve passed some pretty significant gene power to my kids. Going through the new pictures, we exclaimed all three of the following: “Oh my God, that’s Lainey!” “Whoa! That looks like Nella!” and “Holy DASH!” Decide for yourself.

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And I got to see what it looked like, falling asleep on my dad’s chest when I was nothing but a little flour sack. It looked like heaven, by the way.

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I uncovered a gold mine–beautiful photos I’ve never seen before, connections to my family, story upon story of who we are. Some of the slides I sent in were my dad’s–pictures of my parents when they were young; my mom fully pregnant, holding her suitcase on the way to the hospital; my siblings and me all dressed up for Easter Sunday (chapped lips, chapped cheeks, crooked bangs). I framed several to display in our home including a giant enlargement of the most gorgeous photo of my grandparents’ Airstream trailer in the mountains–still waiting on that one.

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My mama! 

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And Lainey’s baby videos that came back? Be still my heart. We had our modern day family slide show the other night, huddled around my computer watching video after video of a baby girl and her new parents who had really annoying baby talk. There was actually a clip of Lainey in her crib, swatting at her baby mobile, and you can hear me behind the camera say, “Someday I’m going to watch this video and she’s going to be all grown up, and I’m going to want to reach through the screen and hold this baby.”

The kids have watched the videos every day since they arrived.

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Our memories, our photos–they help tell our beautiful stories and connect us to those we love.  So whether you’re uncovering hidden stories of the past buried in film and slides and tapes or insuring that your prints have digital copies that won’t get lost, Legacybox makes it easy for you to keep life breathing through those memories.

And they’re giving the first 100 readers, who use the code KELLE, 40% off their orders today. Click here for details.


Leave a Comment
  1. Thank you for sharing this. I have the old small videotapes of our children that I’m going to be able to watch with them. I can’t wait!

  2. I purchased a Legacybox for my parents for Christmas. They converted all of the Super-8 videos from my dad’s childhood, which was awesome. My only complaint/word of caution is that the DVDs they return to you are NOT editable. I didn’t know this would be the case, and we are disappointed that we can’t add captions, change the order of the videos, etc., especially since it was a pretty expensive purchase.

    I reached out to the company about the issue and am awaiting a reply.

  3. I’ve been looking into Legacy Box, I’m just worried my film reels will get misplaced along the journey.

    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  4. I have a box of my dads videos that have just been sitting in a box. Great idea!


  5. Your sponsored posts are always a lot more true to your voice than many other bloggers. My grandpa was the family photographer in the 60s and 70s, and one of my favorite memories is the care he took to set up the equipment and proudly click through the slides while my grandma and my aunt narrated. My grandparents are living and in good health, so I think I’ll ask him if he can share some slides again soon. Thanks for sparking the memory!

    • Thank you! I have wonderful sponsors who support free writing and voice. I love the imagery of your grandpa clicking and your grandma and aunt narrating–especially because I know exactly what that looks like. And yes! Tell him to get those slides out again! Pop some popcorn and make a night of it. Hoping my dad rigs up a slide projector this summer again (he did an outside show at night last year, and it was wonderful!)

  6. Islandgirlhummingbird says:

    Wow Kelle! My dad and I were just discussing what to do with our family’s 8mm films. This is so cool! Thank you for the information!
    Stay well! Xoxox

  7. I always thought Lainey looked the most like you, but that photo looks just like Nella and Dash. So gorgeous. Thanks for the Legacy Box tip! My parents will love it.

  8. I have to get my mama to do this! Too much fun.

  9. I wanna see more!! Fabulous!

  10. Donna Anderson says:

    I sent all our home movies (8mm) to LegacyBox after my father passed away last year. I converted the slides and photos myself, but hadn’t seen the movies in over 30 years. It was the best money I’ve spent in a long time. It truly was priceless to see these movies again and remember my family growing up. I highly recommend them.

    • I can’t even imagine what that must have been like for you–to see him on the screen, while missing him so much. Love that you had this experience.

  11. Lainey’s face in that last picture shows how much she is loving her baby videos!

  12. Thank you so much! This is awesome, I just ordered my box. I can’t wait to get my tapes converted.

    I met my bonus daughter when she was 4. My husband has tapes from when she was a baby. I cannot wait to see her as a baby. It will be such a special treat to know that little person!

    • I love the term “my bonus daughter.” How special for you to be able to see when she was a baby, and how wonderful that she has a bonus mama.

  13. really cool idea for young kids to do and maybe open when they graduate. or a couple on their first anniversary…to open on their 25th…

  14. Oh my gosh, the picture of your parents in front of the no picnic sign is amazing!
    It reminds me of a series the site the Chive has called I Do What I want, it’s hilarious pictures people submit of them breaking the “rules”. Examples here http://thechive.com/2015/10/08/i-do-what-i-want-27-photos-26/

    Great post as always!
    Brynn, http://www.thedomesticdietitian.com

  15. This is so sweet!! Thanks for sharing!

  16. That was post was beautiful and spot on. It’s amazing uncovering these treasure from our past. Your posts are always so beautiful, heartfelt and real. When I see my little list of favourite blog posts in my inbox in the mornings, I save yours for last. :)

  17. Kelli, I just have to tell you how much I loved this blog post and how important I believe it is to preserve our photos. I’m a photographer and now in the digital age we live in, I preach, preach, preach to my clients that it’s so very important to print photos so there will be photos for future generations to hold in their hands. (Or keep updating whatever media you’re using).


  18. Ah, this made my heart happy and sad. About 15 years ago my Dad spent hours and hours transferring all our old cine films (great memories of slide & cine show evenings) onto VHS. Because our cine films were silent, obviously, he played some type of Pan Pipe CD music in the background and you could hear him whistling along every now and then, making the odd comment, or laughing out loud at the footage being recorded.
    All these treasured recordings were lost when my brother moved from Zimbabwe to Ireland and, when he took the VHS tapes in to be digitalised, was told that, no, they were irrecoverable or of too bad a quality. *sob* They were perfect just a year or so before the move so…. so maddening. Mostly saddening.
    Enjoy every minute of your treasure mining! x

  19. Hi Kelle – show us the one of your mum fully pregnant!

  20. Kelle, recently I found a box of slides…..we have a scanner and it actually has a little slot for slides….I was able to scan and print AMAZING color prints of my Dad in Korea that we had not seen before. I’m like you, I’m the family photo keeper, and how fun to find treasures like you just did!

  21. My daughter with Down syndrome has her own business converting tapes and scanning photos/slides. She has even scanned old war letters, and the memories she is able to bring back to life for the families are priceless!

    By the way – Most companies use DVD-R discs, which means you can’t edit. However, if you download the video into Windows Live Movie Maker (or similar program) you can edit to your heart’s content, and then save the new video onto a new DVD or thumb drive.

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