We were sitting around one overcast winter day in New York City. At a loss for something better to do, we dug the albums from our own big days to take an amusing trip down adolescent lane — and then it hit us. We had all grown up at slightly different times and in wholly different places, but there was a tremendous continuity and sense of shared experience to our stories that evoked a time, a place and a specific set of emotions.
We decided to bring up the bar/bat mitzvah topic in conversations among our friends (Jew and Gentile alike) and watched as their normally languid faces lit up while remembering their own stories. It quickly became clear: This amounted to something more than individual memories. We had tripped upon an opportunity to tell the story of a generation – a history of the people, by the people, for the people, with amazing pictures of? people. To manifest this vision, we set up our web site to put up our own photographs and cajole our families, then our friends, and before long, complete and utter strangers, to tell their tales and share their memories.
At first, we were floored. Gawker and then Spin quickly broke the story and we were flooded with photographs, entire albums, T-shirts, table centerpieces, sign-in boards and the stories that accompanied each one. We realized our timing could not have been more perfect. These memories were once individual sources of shame. Now, thanks to the healing powers of time and a growing appreciation of nostalgia, we have placed enough critical distance between “us now” and “us then” that these golden nuggets of memory can now be valued for what they truly are.
Well, that’s the story anyway!