Thursday, March 31, 2016

Old photos: magic and mystery

We have found ourselves the keepers of many old photos: my parents' pictures and keepsakes, my mother-in-law’s, my aunt’s and, more recently, my cousin's.  These albums, collections and loose photos occupy about five plastic tubs, and, as we continue with our basement renovation, more seem to appear every day.  

We find them irresistible. Hope, happiness, a bright future may be reflected in a moment captured for ever. 

We all love all these old photos, but in many cases, we have no idea who is in them.  Still they always seem to have a significance that means we must keep them, even though nobody we know would be able to identify the people in them.

But you know, you have to be tough sometimes.  So we are organizing the ones we know: sending originals off to people who would value them, scanning others to send to relatives who are involve in genealogical research and framing the ones with emotional and historical value to our family. 
It has been a pleasure and I've also shed a few tears, because sometimes I do know who the people are and how their lives unfolded. 

Here are a few of 'the keepers' from my dad's large family.  

I know that these four little boys in their new coats with the brass buttons and their snappy hats, back in 1917, didn't realize that they were about to be shipped off to boarding school in a remote corner of Cape Breton, probably because the family was up to seven children by then and it was too much to manage for their mother. They would next see the rest of the family in the spring. My dad insists that that year it was so cold that the cows went 'dry' and there was no milk for porridge. Did boarding school make a difference in their lives? I think so. 

The girls must have been less of a handful!  They stayed home until they went away to school in their mid-teens. There are many photos of them in elaborate, handmade costumes, looking like something from a fairy tale. I know that one of these little girls had a comfortable happy life and the other had a huge tragedy.  There's no way to know by looking at this photo.  Perhaps you won't be surprised to know that well into their eighties, they were always dressed 'just so' and quite beautiful. 

This very cute lad was the seventh of nine, so not the baby, but the apple of everyone's eye. I remember him as the dashing bachelor uncle with a penchant for practical jokes and a roaring sports car.  I also remember his funeral when he was far too young and vital.  But he sure packed a lot of living in those forty-five years.

 I'll keep you posted on this project, which will probably take about a year.  In the meantime, have you had the same kind of bittersweet reaction to your family photos?  Come by and tell me about it!

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