When I was about ten years old, I crocheted a doily for my dad’s mother.

She was so pleased with it and always had it displayed in her living room. My mother helped me a little bit with it, especially the crocheted pansies around the outer edge. I can remember seeing it when we visited several times a year. We lived one hundred miles away, so it was a treat to come down and see my grandparents and all the family. All of them knew that I had made it, and when my grandmother died fourteen years later, they saved it for me. I put it on my living room table as she had. 

doilyeeAfter I received it, I had the realization that I wish I had paid more attention to the conversations in my grandparents’ home as they described their lives growing up in Alleghany and Wilkes Counties. In the late seventies, I began my quest for data about my family history. Oh how I yearned for opportunities lost in interviews and interpreting old photographs.

I have been very interested in computers for a long time. I have even created some apps to enhance my genealogical research. I thought about that doily that sat there listening to all the conversations of long ago. It is shaped like a satellite dish, and I was able to write a computer program that could capture all those voices that are imbedded in the doily.

All I have to do is to take a video of the different parts of it with my smart phone. Instantly, I have the audio of my grandparents talking about themselves and their family members. I am able to record these conversations and use voice recognition software to create the written versions. When they mention a location, I have a pop up screen that gives the latitude and longitude on Google Maps. I have many old photographs of my grandparents and their extended families. I can superimpose these onto the doily, which acts as a capture net and finds the conversations that identified each person in the photo.

I have not shared this app with anybody else because I think they probably wouldn’t believe that it would work, and they don’t have a doily satellite dish that recorded all those memories.

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