Mnemonic Me This


“In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

If you attended school around the same time I did, no doubt you recited that little poem more than once to help your memory during history quizzes.  It’s an example of a mnemonic which is an aide to help bring something to mind. I call them memory pegs or memory triggers. And it is a little embarrassing how many I still use.

Except for February, I simply can’t bring myself to remember how many days are in a particular month unless I first count them down on my knuckles. With your two fists extended in front of you, side by side, start reciting the months. When a month falls on a knuckle, it has 31 days. if it falls between knuckles, it has 30 (or 28).

We probably all use the old “Spring Forward; Fall Back Trick” when it comes time to reset our clocks for Daylight Savings Time.  At least I still do and will undoubtedly continue to do so.

I could never remember which was which – stalagmite or stalactite until I learned this little trick: Stalagmite has a “g” in it because it comes out of the ground. Stalactite has a “c” in it because it hangs from the ceiling.

And finally, I would be incapable of setting a proper table without knowing that utensils with four letters (like fork) are placed to the left (four letters) of the plate while utensils with five letters (spoon, knife) are placed on the right (five letters.)

Our minds being what they are, we would have a hard time remembering anything if it weren’t for these little tricks or memory triggers.  And really, isn’t that why we keep photos, slides, videos and film?  Because they contain the images of memories we don’t want to forget.

Thanks to Home Video Studio, we don’t have to. The obsolete media once used to store memorable images can be transferred to a more current format, bringing your memories into the digital age. 

What mnemonic do you use? Share them here. Something tells me I’ll need all the memory pegs I can find as the years go by.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Wigwam Village


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I had a former client come back to the studio today to tell me his story. He had purchased an old reel of 8mm film from an antique dealer. The only marking on it was the year 1959. He bought it as a curiosity and brought it to me to convert to a digital form. He became so animated when he was telling us what he saw on the film.

Most of it was uninteresting footage of random scenery but as the camera panned, suddenly, there on the side of what was S. Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, were a few dozen concrete teepees. He couldn’t believe it. “I stayed there as a kid!” he shouted. My wife, who grew up in Orlando, also remembered them.

Wigwam Village, as it was known, was the brainchild of Frank Redford who, in the 1930s began constructing steel and stucco structures in the shape of Indian teepees and renting them out to curious travelers. It began in Horse Cave, Ky but started cropping up in other locations around the country in short order.  A Wigwam village was build in Cave City, KY; followed by a village in New Orleans, LA.

The Wigwam Village in Orlando was the fourth site and by most accounts, the largest. Built in 1948 it consisted of 27 “wigwams” which were advertised as being able to accommodate up to 4 people. It was also billed as “Orlando’s largest motel.”

Subsequent villages were built in Bessemer, AL, Holbrook, AZ, and San Bernardino CA


In Orlando, the teepee structures were situated in a U shape with a giant teepee located at the open end which housed the registration desk, administrative offices and a restaurant. A pool was constructed later on which was situated in the middle of the lot.

Orlando’s Wigwam Village was demolished in 1973 to make room for the East West Expressway. A Vacation Lodge now operates on that site.

So, in summary, my client bought an unknown random reel of film and after converting it to a viewable format realized that, in so doing, he had captured a memory from his youth. And then when sharing that memory with us, he was able to spark a similar memory within my wife. It just goes to show you that we are more connected than we are divided. People should spend more time sharing memories with each other. It draws us closer together.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

OK, this was a little weird…

There can be a number of things that serve as “memory triggers” but today was the first time a memory (actually a series of memories) was initiated by my smart phone.

I got a beep on my phone yesterday. It was a system message from my iCloud photos account saying that I had a new memory waiting for me. When I followed the link I found that a movie had been put together (by my phone?) that apparently used face matching technology because it only took pictures of my wife (Kate) from its storage and then set it to music.

Here it is… and what follows are the memories that it spawned.

Cover photo: We were in Sedona Arizona admiring its red rocks and celebrating our 25th anniversary.

1st photo: Kate with our two granddaughters during a vacation we took to Nashville TN. This was during a children’s art and music festival we took them to one afternoon.

2nd photo: I took her to Costa Rica on our 24th anniversary and surprised her with those earrings. (I had thought it was our 25th but later did the math and discovered I was a year early. So I had to do something special the following year as well.)

3rd photo: Our first trip to Hawaii to visit our son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters. Loved it. And if it was up to me, I’d wear a Hawaiian shirt every day.

4th photo: Still in Hawaii. We were taken to visit the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor.

5th photo: In Orlando at the Dr Phillips Arts Center getting ready to see “Wicked.” It was our Christmas present to each other.

6th photo: Repeat of the cover photo. But worth repeating. It is a good one.

7th photo: In Sedona, at the bar at L’Auberge de Sedona, waiting for our table to enjoy our 25th anniversary dinner.

8th photo: At our table at L’Auberge. Fine dining. Worth the wait. And the expense.

9th photo: Last year at a convention in Tucson. Kate with fellow Home Video Studio owner, Craig Peterson. Kate and I won best western costume – mainly due to her getup. First prize was a camera crane rig.

10th photo: I’m clueless.  That’s Kate with our youngest granddaughter. If I had to guess I’d say that was on the back porch of their home in Hawaii.

11th photo/video: We end with Kate’s video message to her mother for her mom’s 90th birthday celebration.

Great memories all. And while, at first blush, I found it a little creepy that my phone took it upon itself to build a video tribute to my wife, I have to admit, it chose some pretty good pictures. But if it ever decides to start calling her on its own behind my back, I’m going to have to put my foot down.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, video, audio, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.

What’s Your Earliest Memory?

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There’s a very good reason why I call this blog “Memories Matter.” It is because they do.

I was trying to think of my earliest memory today. I have one but I’m not sure if it is accurate. I am on a dock, being held by an adult, waving good-bye to someone on a boat. That’s it. That’s the memory. I couldn’t have been more than two or three years old. And I do have my doubts that the memory is accurate.

For the first four years of my life I lived in Bainbridge Maryland.  It is located a short distance away from the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. But do I really remember a time when I was four or younger (young enough to be held aloft by an adult)? I don’t remember who I was waving goodbye to or who was holding me. But I still have the vague recollection of the event.

The very fact that I am now questioning this memory proves how fragile memory is. Without documented evidence to back up our mind’s recollection, there’s no telling if it is real or imagined. In my case, I have no photos, film, or written correspondence that would lead me to think that the event occurred. But I can still see the image in my mind’s eye.

This is why I encourage families to update their family histories (photos, slides, videos, film, audio recordings, etc.) into a digital form. Once digitalized, those memories become more than fleeting images that pass through the mind. They become documented pieces of personal history that can be revisited and remembered as factual events. More importantly, they can be handed down to the next generation as a family legacy. Our lives matter to those who love us. For that reason alone, our memories matter as they will tell the story of our lives to those who follow us.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit