I Have Someone’s Family History

Brother Mark always likes to hit the antique shops when he comes to Cape, so we started at Annie Laurie’s. I was doing a pretty good job avoiding temptation when my eye fell upon this 1959ish black and white photo shop owner Laurie Everett had under a Christmas display. It jumped out because it was uncharacteristically sharp and well exposed for a snapshot of that era. It was for sale. Mark paid for it, so it couldn’t have been much. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

Look at the IDs on the back

When I flipped it over, I saw that someone had taken the time to document who was in the photo:

My Sis and our Grandchildren in Tom and Jo’s basement. Christmas Eve 1959

  • Tommy – 3 yrs 9 mos
  • David 2 ” m 90s
  • Jeanne 1″ 7 mos
  • Marie ? Ha Ha!

Note for the younger generation: “Ha Ha!” was the 1959 way to say LOL.

Throwing away photos is alien to me

For budget purposes one year, I calculated that the average photographer on my staff used about 30,000 frames of film a year. Back in the day when I was buying my own film in 100-foot rolls and cutting it into 36-exposure rolls (and under the influence of One-Shot Frony), I didn’t hit those levels, but it’s safe to say that I’ve shot a lot more film than most folks. (Kodak called someone who bought 12 rolls of film a year a “heavy user.”)

I would bet that I probably have all but maybe 100 rolls of those bazillion rolls of film. I may not be able to find an individual photo right away and it may not be properly identified, but it’s there someplace. My “coffee can film” contains pictures that are more interesting to me today than the stuff I shot for the paper and filed away in negative sleeves.

How can you throw away your mother?

How could you let a photo of your mother when she was about three years old in the midst of a flock of chicks slip away? Particularly since she’s with her brother Kenneth, my namesake, who was killed in a car vs. train crash. I sure couldn’t.

Other people, obviously, can. I was at a yard sale where I picked up about a dozen Kodak slide trays. When I went to check out, I noticed that the trays were full of slides: weddings, graduations, vacation trips, first car, basically all the facets of the family’s life. I pointed it out to the seller and she said, “That’s OK. Just throw them away.” I eventually DID throw away a lot of them, but I held onto some of the better shots because it would have been a crime not to.

Mother always fills our birthday and holiday cards with family photos she’s collected over the years. It’s always the best part of the card.

Do you recognize any of these folks?

If so, I have a piece of your family history. I won’t even charge you to get it back. Mark’s already paid for it.

9 Replies to “I Have Someone’s Family History”

  1. Nope none of my folks on the picutres…but that is one big Santa Claus (HA HA)….Ihave to remember to use that instead of lol or omg wtf or ohter new stuff!

  2. I bought a dry sink at Second Time Around used furniture store in Melbourne years ago. The store owner told me it came to him stuffed full of family pictures of a recently deceased woman. He called the woman’s son and told him and he said to throw away the pictures! We were both aghast about that. I love old photos and I don’t need to know the people either.

  3. I don’t have any kids, and my steps have their own mom, so I often wonder what will happen to my stuff when I slough off this mortal coil. I have one nephew nearby, and he’s going to get married someday, so maybe I can ingratiate myself into his family? Be the crazy old great-aunt? One of my stepdaughters is (semi)patiently waiting for me to die so she can have my pricey German dishes. I told her she had to take my mom’s/grandmother’s ancient mixing bowl, as well, so it would stay in the family. … Not sure how I feel about all this; do I want folks clamoring for the minutiae of my life? Or content with the great memories we’ve made? At least digital photos take up a lot less room; you can fit a lot of memory cards in your coffee can!

  4. ken i agree with you..ho wcan you throw away family photos? but what happens is the photos become misplaced,in a box or old candy tin. then nobody knows what happened to them.them when the family home’s contents are liquided. either the family allowed a auction house to bid for the entire lot..and a old candy tin doesn’t sell for much.i went to a friend’s family yard sale that was ran by an estate sale place..i found family slides of trips.graduations.for a 5 dollars a bag.i was able to save a lot of things.but sadly some things become lost. i know my frien’s mother was so stubborn about allowing anyone to go through thngs before she turned the contents over the the estate sales..but waht can you do? i was in cape this week for thanksgiving.i should have stayed for the christmas parade. i have nver seen it. but i have life here in st.louis and wanted my own bed and pillows..LOL

  5. Ken, I totally agree. My cousin has loaned me 7 CDs of old family photos she scanned. I’m sitting with my mother, 83, to try to ID the folks — my great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents. Because these folks weren’t well off, there are few photos. They’re precious.

  6. I inherited two large photo albums from my parents. Most photos I do not recognize. ther should be a “law” that on the back of each photo the date, occaision, and full names, left to right, of all in photo!!!!

    1. Dick,

      I’d vote for that law so long as it wasn’t applied retroactively. If it was, I’d be in for a life sentence.

      I AM trying to make amends, though. When I file all my new stuff and when I touch the old stuff, I fill in all the applicable metadata that stays with the digital file.

      I’ve always filed my digital photograph with meaningful names in the format YYYYMMDD Brief description_frame number.

      When I edit it, I make my first pass a photoshop psd file. That preserves any editing layers if I want to go back and change anything in the future. The drawback is that it takes a 4 meg file and turns it into one about 45 megs.

      The final step is to take the psd file, make it the size I want (usually 1024 w for horizontals and 640 w for verticals), apply sharpening and save it as a jpg file. That cuts the size to usually 500K to 1.5 meg, for faster uploading and downloading.

  7. I would contact my mom or my uncle, we lived in cape for years, they can both be found on facebook under roger cotner, and willie cheatham.

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