Before weekenders casually explored the ocean-side vistas of Santa Barbara and well before the Pacific Coast Highway carved its way through the Pacific Ocean’s shore, the Chumash Native Americans called the greater areas of Los Angeles, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara counties home.
Once a thriving population of between 15,000 and 18,500 natives, the number of Chumash today is in the 2,000-5,000 range. It’s more likely you will hear of those who are of Chumash descent and even those numbers are beginning to dwindle. As such, preservation is key for the Chumash and their descendants. This is just one of the many reasons why it was so important for ScanMyPhotos customer Irene Stonecipher to scan her precious photos.
A few years ago, Irene began her photo-scanning project by sending one box at a time to ScanMyPhotos. However, the project encountered a few hiccups along the way.
“In the process of scanning all my photos, I decided to try another photo scanning company. I live in Prescott and they’re in Phoenix (less than 100 miles away). I boxed up an order and sent it to the company, but three months later, I found myself at the point of filing a theft report. I called the company several times for updates but my calls and emails went answered. It was as if the company fell off the face of the planet and took all my photos with them! Then, months later, I opened my front door and the box of photos was back, looking the same as when I sent it with no further information provided.”
While Irene dodged a bullet by getting her photos back in one piece, the experience left her shaken.
“Saying ‘sorry’ ain’t going to cut it when you have my great grandma’s photo—no amount of apologizing is ever going to replace that picture if it goes missing or gets damaged.”
From there, Irene went on to send ScanMyPhotos 10 prepaid boxes of printed pictures—a total of nearly 17,000 photos to scan—without issue.
“First of all, ScanMyPhotos can’t improve on anything as far as I’m concerned — they were amazing. From the minute I sent off my photos, I knew when they were received, what they were doing with them, when they were in the scanning process, and when they were sending them back. The few times I had to communicate with customer service, I got an immediate response. The team that they have is remarkable. In this day and age, you can do a lot of things but it doesn’t make a difference if you do not have the people in customer service to back you up.”
Those boxes sent to ScanMyPhotos contained vital memories and part of Irene’s family that needed to be preserved.
“The photos I sent in date back at least 75 years and feature locations and family from all across the United States (some were even taken overseas). The project took me two years, but that’s what happens when going through photo albums—it’s easy to get stuck for a while visiting Memory Lane in 1964. Some of the photos were even pasted into photo albums back in the 40s and those were hard to get out. When we did get them out, they were a bit thin and worn but ScanMyPhotos was able to scan them anyway.”
Through the project, Irene got to reconnect with old friends, simply by looking back on the memories.
“I lost contact with a friend of mine and as I was going through photos, I saw him. I thought, ‘Well, I haven’t seen these people in 50 years!’ so I wrote a letter and now we’re back in touch. No one knows why we lost touch in the first place—it happens as life goes on, but from those photos, you can renew friendships.”
Irene plans to share the rest of the photos with her extended family once the project is complete.
“I figure they will tell me to put everything on Facebook. And I did with one of the photos—I uploaded the photo of my great-grandmother on a special day for Native Americans and got a really great response from everyone, especially my cousins.”
Being able to look back on photos of our ancestors is so important to make sure we fully understand history as time moves on. Irene and her quest to ensure the preservation of her photos—even in spite of bumps in the road along the way—will help future generations understand the past so it is never forgotten.
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