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AMY KIRK: How old cars bring families together

I should've known that the slide shows my two uncles put together for a recent family reunion would be a "man show." A man show is a photo slide show viewed either digitally or on a slide projector (we had both at our reunion) that consists of old family vehicles.

I'm not sure if my uncles volunteered to be in charge of the slide shows because, 1) they didn't want to have to look at hundreds of pictures compiled by the women of people known mostly as relatives, 2) they wanted something interesting for the men attending the reunion, or 3) their family vehicles presentation was a ploy to get more men in the family to show up.

What my uncle Alan mentioned most regarding his PowerPoint (digital picture slide show) was the pictures of vehicles he found for it. At one point during my uncle John's slide show (the old-fashioned slide projector kind), a picture popped up of a relative in an old car. There was no inquiry about the person or the house. Instead he said, "What's the story on that car, I don't remember it." My uncle Alan gladly went into great detail about the car, all of its shortcomings, and especially how he bought it for $50 for his college transportation.

In general, men can take or leave learning how they're related to other people in their family. The family history they're most interested in learning is what great-granddad drove. Guys are far more interested in vehicles and equipment than people. Years ago, I remember my mother chuckling over how my dad didn't even notice the people in a picture, but he knew all the details and several stories about the tractor behind the people.

It's apparent that it used to be standard to take pictures of people in front of a car because a majority of the family photos I've seen have a vehicle or tractor with the people. I'm starting to see how family pictures taken with their vehicles are an ideal way to get men interested in their family history. My paternal grandmother did something similar for the Studt side of my family tree. As part of the family's history she wrote out an entire list of makes, models and years of all the vehicles she and grandpa had for the guys.

Men like seeing old pictures of cars, pickups, trucks and tractors from the past because of the memories they invoke. Photos of people with their vehicles or tractors trigger good stories with guys. They're reminded of events that happened while driving the car or operating the tractor as a kid or what their fathers and grandfathers did with those machines (as well as what they shouldn't have been doing).

Guys will definitely get enthused about a family reunion if old photos of tractors or vehicles are present. They always lead to good family history stories and vehicle-related discussions in detail.

The outfits people drive nowadays may not be as cool-looking or built with the same quality and impressiveness, but their presence in photographs is still an important tradition. To ensure the future of all family reunions, make sure your have a family picture taken with everybody standing in front of a tractor or family car. It's quite possibly the only way men in future generations will know and remember who their descendents are.