As the recovery progresses in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, residents of Union Beach and the surrounding towns are working with first responders to provide the essentials of daily life including shelter, food and health care. In the midst of their own personal losses during this time, two amazing women are also on a mission to help others recover and preserve their family photos.
Family Photos: Memories Matter
During difficult times we look to our families for support, to the familiar for comfort and to our own memories of better times to get us through. But what if your memories, in the form of family photos, are missing along with all of your other worldly possessions?
Precious family photos, even entire wedding albums, scrapbooks and more, started washing up on the New Jersey shore almost immediately after Sandy had passed. While many pictures are damaged beyond repair due to the effects of sea water and the elements, a short window exists to capture a digital version of these images and preserve them before they are lost forever.
Mary Danielsen and Jeannette Van Houten have been working hard via the media, social networking and any available channel to not only scan and post these found images, but to also solicit help from the local community. With so many losses on the local level and a shortage of resources, Mary and Jeannette are now reaching out to the greater community for assistance.
Photo Scanning Drive: December 1-2, 2012 in Union Beach, New Jersey
Volunteers and members of the Flip-Pal Cares rescue response team and Boy Scout troops from nearby Monmouth County will be using donated Flip-Pal mobile scanners to digitally scan thousands of photos, wedding albums and scrapbooks collected from the shoreline, wetlands and other piles of debris. All scanned photographs will be posted on Facebook for their owners to claim. Residents who have found additional photos can bring them to the event or drop them off at the Union Beach Municipal Building.
“People have suffered a tremendous amount of loss due to Hurricane Sandy and if providing our scanners and supporting the photo recovery project helps people to get their photos back, then we are grateful to be helping in some small way,” commented Gordon Nuttall, CEO of Couragent, makers of Flip-Pal mobile scanner.
How You Can Help
Members of the public are invited to volunteer for the Union Beach Photo Scanning Drive this Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1-2. This Saturday the scanning drive will be from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. at the Sports Authority, located at 3434 Highway 35 in Hazlet, NJ. On Sunday the scanning drive will be from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. at the Home Depot, located at 3700 Highway 35 in Hazlet, NJ.
Those wishing to make a monetary donation to help defray supply costs can go to Restoring Union Beach Memories at http://www.gofundme.com/1k3w9c. This is a fundraising site set up by local Union Beach Photo Scanning coordinators, Jeanette Van Houten and personal historian Mary Danielsen.
“My name is Jeannette Van Houten. I have been a resident of Union Beach, NJ for the past 42 years. On October 29, 2012 Sandy the Superstorm devastated my small town. When we woke on October 30, 2012 our lives had changed forever. Many families lost their homes and possessions. I made it my mission to give my friends and family something extremely special to each and every one, I want to return their photos that have been found. I have been cleaning, drying and scanning the photos that I have found and I am now moving on to the photos that others turned in. I would like to do 3 things: 1) purchase battery operated scanners so I can have multiple people scanning photos at the same time; 2) purchase external storage to back up the scans so professional restorers can work on the damaged photos; and 3) purchase gift cards so families can reprint some of the precious photos.”
Stay Updated On The Recovery Effort
- Check back next week when we’ll have a report on Gordon’s visit to Union Beach and the efforts to help scan and preserve the precious family photos that have been recovered so far.
Also, you can read more about Jeannette and Mary’s efforts and the photos that are washing up on beaches in New Jersey each and every day:
[Editor’s note: Flip-Pal mobile scanner ambassador Thomas MacEntee shares his family’s own story of a World War II era veteran and a condolence certificate signed by President Harry Truman.]
Several years ago, I came upon a variety of family photos and documents when cleaning out my mother's house in New York. Many of these items belonged to my great-grandmother, Therese McGinnes, who passed away in 1988 and some to my great aunt, Ethel McCrickert, who passed in 2002. Among the items was a Certificate of Condolence signed by President Harry S. Truman.
For me, this item has always been a mystery and I knew it held an interesting story related to my family. But with my older relatives now gone, I had no one to ask about the item and its importance. My search was on…"
The certificate reads:
In grateful memory of Corporal Matthew T. McCrickert who died in the service of his country in the American Area, June 11, 1946. He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live and grow, and increase its blessings. Freedom lives, and through it, he lives—in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.
President of the United States of America
My first point of research was to determine “what I had” in terms of this item. What I’ve determined is that this document, measuring about 14 x 11,” was sent to the family of a United States military service member killed in action during World War II. The document was signed by President Truman and as far as I can tell, the signature is authentic and not from an auto pen. Although Truman was the first President to regularly use an autopen (which is an automated way of signing thousands of documents), such use was restricted to basic correspondence, not something as important as a condolence certificate.
Scanning the Condolence Card
Before I started my research I wanted to scan the condolence card, so I had a digital image to work with and I wouldn’t damage the original. I used my Flip-Pal mobile scanner and removed the top to scan the document in sections.
After scanning 15 different sections, I was ready to open the Toolbox folder and use the Flip-Pal EasyStitch™ program to stitch all sections together into one image. The entire process took about 10 minutes from start to finish.
The Search for U.S. Army Veteran Matthew McCrickert
In my search I also found a funeral card for Matthew McCrickert in the same box of possessions. It had basic birth and death information as well as a photo of a young man whose life held such promise but ended at a very early age.
My mother cared for Ethel McCrickert Macari Hannan for several years towards the end of her life and Matthew was her only brother, but she never talked much about him. My goal was to learn more about Matt and how he actually died and what the loss meant to his immediate family.
I explored all possible avenues based on the information I had:
1. A death date
2. Bits and pieces of a family story about a plane crash
However, I lacked important information, including where the crash took place.
News Stories: A Fatal Plane Crash in Freehold, New Jersey
My first research step was to search for "Matthew McCrickert" with the year 1946, the year he died. No results. Next, I moved on to a date range of June 1-15, 1946 and added terms such as plane crash.
A glance at a newspaper from upstate New York—the Kingston Daily Freeman—revealed the date and location of a crash in Freehold, New Jersey involving a military plane. While Matt was not listed as a victim of the crash, the story in the newspaper fit with what I had been told by family members.
Further research located another newspaper article, this time in the Middletown Times Herald. This article held an important clue: bad weather along the Eastern Seaboard due to a series of violent storms.
A Precious Document and A More Complete Story
While I don’t yet have all the pieces to this family mystery, my motivation to learn more about my cousin Matt motivated me to preserve the condolence card, which holds great value to my family.
Over time, as I find more information, I can use the images created using the Flip-Pal mobile scanner and my research to fully tell the story of Corporal Matthew T. McCrickert and his service to his country.
Flip-Pal Veterans Day Sale through November 15, 2012
Don’t forget that you can get started on preserving your family’s military stories and memories with the Flip-Pal mobile scanner and accessories during our Veterans Day / Remembrance Day Sale. Click here to learn more.