You see, before he became an academic and college president, my Dad worked in the journalism business too, starting as a copy boy at the old San Francisco Examiner (where I would later enjoy a photo internship) in the 1930s. When there, he learned how to make paper hats from the printing machinists, who would fold a double-page piece of broadsheet paper into a square hat to protect their hair from ink. It was always a small miracle to me to watch him make them when I was a child, and I thought it would be a double benefit for Caty to ask him for a hat: He'd be rewarded for his grandfatherly knowledge, and she'd be occupied and happy.
But the years have passed (he's 87 now) and it's been a while since anyone (me) asked for one of those hats. He had a hard time remembering.
Fortunately, I had preserved the last one I asked for. It hangs in a place of honor in my study, made from a yellowed, 14-year-old Commentary page of The Washington Times. I fetched it, brought it in and, from my memory of watching him make them and by carefully unfolding my treasure, figured out how it should be made.
Of course, with the internet, it's easy to find instructions on how to do ... well anything. But the idea of learning from living memory, not to mention family memory, to do something is special, I think.
Of course, there is one problem: how long before one won't be able to find a double-page piece of broadsheet newspaper?