Monday, July 23, 2012

A Step Into a Stranger's Past

The past few weeks have been challenging and disorienting for our family, as we work to deal with the changing health of my husband's elderly parents. They live two states away, making our accessibility less than ideal. We've put a lot of miles on the car.

Spending time with my mother-in-law has been both rewarding and fascinating. She needs extra help and support right now and, in turn, she's shared many a family story that I haven't previously heard. Some are funny, some surprising, some quite poignant. All are, oh, so special.

On the car ride back home this past weekend, I was thinking about the stories she's shared and was reminded of the wonderful treasure I had picked up at an estate sale a few weeks ago. I posted about the stamps and cards here.

At that same sale, I found a brown paper envelope imprinted with the words, "Kodak Finishing from Keith County Studio." The envelope bore the same name that was on the cards I featured in that previous post. On the spot, I shuffled through the first few of about 50 vintage photographs and thought I could use them in my journal-making. I paid $1 for them and headed home.

At home, sifting through this wonderful collection of family photos, I was captivated--pulled, willingly, into some other time and place. A beautiful family home, young families, grandparents, children and babies, dogs, rose gardens. The character and composition of the photos made me feel almost a part of the family, while at the same time, a bit like a peeping Tom. 

Someone hand wrote elaborate descriptions on the backs of about half the photos, which bore dates from the mid-1930s to early 1940s.

The photo of the little boy makes me smile every time I look at it. The above description on the back of his photo is priceless: "This is Gordie--May 1939. Taken in our back yard. He was calling the kitten, but I missed the cat when I took the picture."

This looks like a mischievous bunch!

The women on the right are proudly displaying a string of fish. Do you suppose they caught them and then had to clean and cook them, too?

Daddy and his little guy in January 1938. From the looks of it, they must have been in a warmer climate than the Midwest.

I've looked through these photos over and over again. I can't help it. I don't know these people, but the photographer was so masterful at capturing a range of settings, family interactions and memorable moments that I feel as if I could step right into one of these snapshots and blend right in.

I admit, now, that I've had a change of heart about the fate of these snapshots--no journal material for these treasures. They may chronicle a small piece of the lives of people who, in reality, are strangers to me, but I've grown accustomed to their faces and places and kinda like the idea of keeping them all together as a family. With the cards they sent one another so long ago.

Make it a great day!


  1. What a treasure trove!
    My husband and I once bought a job lot at an auction and found it to contain letters, flight records and photos from a WWll RCAF fighter pilot. After we enjoyed looking through everything we gave them to a museum.

  2. Such a lovely collection of photos. So very interesting. I'm sure somewhere someone is missing those photos and wondering whatever happened to them. That happened to us when we moved once. We had a box of my grandmother's pictures that also contained my mom's yearbooks and they did not make the move. My parents were so upset.


  3. I have a lot of old pictures like those that belonged to my grandmother. Most of them don't have names on them so I have no idea who they are. But some are of family that I know. I'm not sure what I am going to do with them, but I just can't get rid of them.
    Thanks for stopping by and your nice comment on my (rather ugly) barn.

  4. Oh, Ann, I love this. I, like you, can easily find myself wrapped up in people's photos whom I do not know. I love images, especially those that tell a story. Old photographs are a treasure. Glad you shared these and are saving them! It's nice as well to preserve a glimpse into the past.

  5. Great post. I see lots of old photos in antique stores and I always wonder how they got there. Did all their family die before they did and their photos had nowhere to go? I always find it a little sad.


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