It’s always cool when you learn something new about a friend. You think you know them pretty well, but then they surprise you with something they’ve never mentioned before, like “I won the state archery championship in high school” or “I just finished writing my first novel. It’s about bees, which I’ve been utterly fascinated by since childhood.” Such was the case with our good friend Andrew Huff, who has not only been a web ally over at Gaper’s Block, but has helped us over the years with projects of ours like Layer Tennis and The Show, as well as coming along with us on more than a couple of trips to the bar. But until recently, we didn’t know about a project he’d used Jewelboxing for and once we’d heard all the details, we asked him if he wouldn’t mind sharing them on the blog. He agreed and so here’s the whole story from Andrew himself:
“At Christmas in 2001, I brought a mini-casette recorder out to my grandparents’ house in Scottsdale, Arizona, to interview them about their youth. My grandmother was born in Italy and immigrated to the US when she was 8, passing through Ellis Island on her way to Chicago. My grandfather was born here, fought in the Pacific Theater during World War II, and came home to jobs ranging from running a small trucking firm to working for the City of Chicago’s Recorder of Deeds to owning a nightclub. He was the single best storyteller I’ve ever known, and their life together was so rich that I wanted to make sure at least part of it was recorded for posterity.
“I recorded about three hours of tape that Christmas. In between stories of my grandparents’ childhood in Chicago’s Little Italy, their courtship and my grandfather’s experiences in Guadal Canal and after, I also captured the rest of the family filling in details and asking questions. On one tape, my grandmother walks through the steps of making stuffed artichokes, and then we talk about life after marriage, the move from the Old Neighborhood, and grandpa’s trucking company and the uniform company he drove for for 20 years.
“In 2003, I brought my recorder with me again. This time, it was to record my grandfather one more time: he was in the last stages of lung cancer, so it was one last opportunity to ask him questions. He told me about the bar he ran, and about the move to Arizona in the early ’90s. Three weeks later, he passed away.
“The tapes sat in my office for several years, until my grandmother expressed interest in hearing them again. That spurred me to finally have them digitized. As I prepared the files for Grandma, I realized that the rest of the family would be interested in copies, too. So a grand Christmas present project was hatched.
“I knew right off the bat that I wanted to use Jewelboxing cases for the CDs. They’re beautiful presentation pieces, and the custom templates allowed me to easily create nicely designed inserts for them. I scanned photos from my mother and my collection, produced layouts in Photoshop using the templates, and printed them up. Unfortunately, I ran out of time before Christmas to actually burn the CDs. Fortunately, I was able to print the CD labels and take them with me, burning the discs and slapping on labels while listening to the recordings with my grandmother.
“The four-CD set turned out beautifully, and fits perfectly on the shelf alongside DVDs and books. My family loved the gift, of course. I’m looking forward to repeating the project with my dad’s side of the family this summer.”
Thanks very much to Andrew and here’s to hoping for a few surprises in Arlington, Austin, Cupertino, Orsay, Launceston, Lexington, Mountain View, Old Buckenham, Belfast, Wimbledon, Surbiton, Berkeley, Oslo, Guildford, Burbank, Chicago, Brooklyn, Montreal, Meerbusch, Great Neck, Richmond, Tonsberg, New York, Woburn, Elk Grove, London, Amsterdam, Seattle, Helsinki, Stockbridge, Bonita Springs, and Edmonton.