Legacy Books takes the highlights of your life and puts them together in a soft-cover book that your family will treasure for generations to come. It can contain photos and recipes, life lessons, and traditions; anything you want to pass on to your children and grandchildren. Our service consists of 3 video sessions of 1-2 hours each. You will be asked questions about your life, or you can share your story through audio or print. Each experience is tailor-made to fit the individuals specific needs.
Call us today for a free consultation at (319) 241-3102.
Everyone has a story to tell.
Your story is important. It tells the world who you are and what life means to you. It tells about the struggles, the joys, the heartache, and the grief that comes along with living. Your story is important because you make a difference, whether you realize it or not.
Shouldn't you share your story with the world?
An Excerpt from Legacy: A Biography
By Thomas P. Meis
Some of my memories have distinct smells.
I remember the smell of the Lilies of the Valley
beside the house. The aroma of the cedar chips from the furniture factory
across the tracks. The Sulphur odor of chemical barrels stacked for shipment
beside Shores-Mueller. The smell of
sawdust on the floor of Dad’s Central Park Meat Market.
I’ve described the funky good earth aroma of the trenches
carved across the parking in front of our house. We used to crawl through the
sections of sewer tile scattered along, waiting to be lowered into the clay
Gail Lightner lived across the street. Her dad was the
contractor on the beautiful Grotto nestled on the north slope, at the foot of
Mound Farm. I was still fairly fresh when I heard my folks talk about the nuns
going to sue the builders. I was too young to understand the story even if I’d
heard it. But I know I felt guilty just in knowing our big shot neighbor and
feeling a special kinship with the Sisters of Mercy.
Only vestiges remain of that ornate place to meditate.
The grotto lay between the Old Green Mansion and the main building with its
domed cupola; the former long gone; the latter a landmark, with its slight
I think May at the Mound was my favorite season there;
maybe it was because it was Mary’s one of two months of remembrance; the other
being October. Or maybe the Violets and Lilies of the Valley and apple blossoms
from the orchard, always adorning the Blessed Mother’s figure in the classrooms
at St. Matthew’s, made me smile.
One of my teachers would weave a little crown of the
little lilies, to make Mary truly queen of the May. I remember, too, the scads
of Bridle Wreath near the bottom of the northeast slope. Like the stately
Hollyhock, I couldn’t figure out why the beautiful and delicate Bridle Wreath
didn’t flaunt a fragrance to match.
What do Lilies have going for them that these
sniffless flowers don’t?
There are times I think too much about the little
things, I know. But if I don’t ask these questions, how will I learn anything?
It’s in these pondering moments when I can truly see the magnificence of our
Father come to life.
Many times during my life I took myself too seriously and ended up
wallowing in a pool of self-pity. And as you know, I don’t swim very well.
So when Dad asked, “Thomas, did I drop you on your
head?” I laughed. But do you suppose the good man was trying to tell me
Call it Confession Time or “leveling of the progeny;”
doesn’t matter, just give it a name.
Gentle people call it, “Not playing with a full deck.” (No wonder I used
to lose every hand of Go Fish!)
If he were a writer examining my life, with its several
soft spots, he would probably conclude something like this:
“The kid has definitely used a few words where the G
I was only 5 years old when we moved to Cedar Rapids from Nebraska City, Neb. My dad lost his job at the Otoe
County Canning Factory and his brother convinced him to go to Cedar Rapids
and try to get on at Wilson’s Meat Packing Plant. So, my dad loaded up the family
and all of our possessions and we drove to Iowa. When we got there, however, the job had already
been filled. He was put on a waiting list, but it took a long time for him to start working there.
We lived with my grandparents, my dad's folks, in a two-story house on 7th Street and 6th Avenue SE. We lived upstairs for a while, and then moved across the river to a small house. It was so cold in the winter!
The only source of heat was a pot-bellied stove in the living room. As a result, we didn’t
live there long; we moved to a house on 8th
Street and 8th Avenue SE, across from Mercy Hospital.
My dad worked a few odd jobs while he waited for a job
opening at Wilson's. To make ends meet, he caught fish from the Cedar River. Carp was the worst. It tasted like river water.
Yuck. The catfish was pretty good, but it had so many little bones. He also hunted rabbit and squirrel because meat was rationed.
Somehow we survived the Depression. I don't remember ever going hungry, but I know my folks did. There wasn’t enough food for everyone,
so they went without. I remember that only happening once, but I imagine it
happened more often.
We didn’t have a lot, but I never thought too much about it. Everyone I knew was going through difficult times. One time I asked my mom for a penny and she said she didn’t
have it. Can you imagine? It seems so funny now.
Something happened when I turned 40. I became obsessed with my family's history. It started with a few names, such as my grandpa's relatives in Germany, and soon I was uncovering bits and pieces of information about my relatives I never even imagined. I discovered Find-a Grave, which led me to genealogy trees. I learned that one great-great-great grandfather was a sea captain in England. A voyage from Ireland to England decided his fate, when he, along with several crew members, were lost at sea.
I also have an ancestor who was a knight and another who was a store owner. My great-grandmother x 9, was the first female poet in America, and her husband was one of the first governors of America; all this from one branch of my family tree! The other side of the tree, my father's side, consisted of life in Prussia, Germany, and I found myself immersed in the history of the homeland of my ancestors. I spent hours researching both of my parents' families, and still only came up with info for a few branches; and there is STILL so much more to discover!
I am in the process of writing my family's history, so I can publish it someday. I want to make the information available to future generations, so they don't have to spend countless hours trying to uncover it themselves. My grandchildren may not appreciate it now, but someday they will be looking for answers about where they come from, and I will be able to provide that for them. I can't think of a better gift to give to my loved ones.