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Gwinnett History: Back In The Day – Holiday Bonus: The Time Travelers.

This week’s show is a very personal story about legacy and memories as we gather around our families this holiday season. Local history is often best described as family history gone public, so we hope you enjoy this special episode of Back In The Day.


One of the reasons I’ve always admired photography is that it provides a window into our past. Growing up a big part of our family traditions has always been to pull out the family photo albums and look through those windows at the other versions of ourselves stuck between the sticky cardboard and cellophane, frozen and fixed in what was just a brief second of our existence. 

In 1986 my sister passed away, and in the aftermath of all the pain that comes from losing a child, came a certain importance for documenting our lives in a way that stretched the boundaries of just an image. I was only 5 or 6 years old when my dad brought home a black suitcase with a lock and key attached to the top of it. I was immediately attracted to it’s form. There are a lot of flash-bulb memories from this time period in my life mostly due to shock, but this memory stands out because it was a day that would form the rest of my life. The case looked like something Dad had picked up on the Death Star or perhaps Michael Jackson’s Garage Sale.

Three red letters stood out… R. C. A.

Inside a VHS camcorder too heavy for me to carry. Dad had gone to Sears at Gwinnett Place Mall and made the purchase.  I realize today, that even if they don’t think so deeply about it, there was something psychological going on with this purchase. If you have three kids, and one of the passes away, a part of you must want to go back in time and hold them for just 3 more seconds. You want to time travel. Who wouldn’t? This wasn’t just a camcorder, it was a time machine. A window into the past.


GWINNETT HISTORY: BACK IN THE DAY is hosted by Nathan McGill, an award-winning filmmaker, writer and storyteller at The Guide to Gwinnett and Gwinnett Magazine. Subscribe and follow along as Nathan leads us through compelling stories about Gwinnett.