Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fading Photographs

Today I was looking through some old albums and boxes of photographs.  I remember getting on my mom’s case for having so many pictures in a box and not in an album.  I have come to learn that the box is actually better – or was rather.
Remember the magnetic albums that came out in the 70’s?  All that was required was lifting the plastic and setting the photo on page and presto – it was there for life.  Who knew that just twenty years later we would be scolded for ever having considered ruining our photographs by placing them on pages chalk full of acid.  We might as well have put our photos through a shredder.
I would say that at least 70% of the pictures could be thrown away.  If not ruined by acid, they just really had no business making it to the album in the first place.  But mom could never bring herself to throw such items away, no matter how blurred or butchered the picture itself turned out. 
And by butchered, I mean like the photographer was really meaning to take a picture of the background but somebody’s head got in the way, or others where the entire head didn’t quite make it into the photograph.  And if she couldn’t completely identify them then, why the heck is she hanging onto them over 40 years later?

If nothing else, it is important to write down the name(s) and date of the picture.
I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular, but I would love the opportunity to organize and to scan some of the better photographs to help preserve their lives for a little bit longer. 
Across from my mom's house live our good friends Peggy and George Bird.  Our families have been friends for generations.  We were surprised to learn it had gone back even further than Peggy and mom
One day (this example is from quite a while ago; before the magnetic albums perhaps) while my mom had gone across the street to visit Peggy, she noticed several photographs strewn all over the kitchen table.  Peggy had wanted to make a special gift for George which would include pictures of his lineage (George and Peggy's mother are heavy into genealogy.  Peggy shares the same exact passion as I do - which makes it hard among family history enthusiasts)

My mom said she had picked up one of the photographs and made a comment (referring to the background) that we had one similar to it - except with different people. Peggy said the man in the photograph was George's father, but they had no idea who the little boy was.  Turns out that he was my dad's uncle.
George's father had a best friend named James.  The photograph we had was of my great uncle James and my grandmother, Helen.  My mom had been told that the little girl in the photo was my grandma Helen - but didn't know who the man was that held her. 
George seems to know more about that side of my family than I do.  So my non-biological neighbor (who I do view as a second father) became a source of information for me, and has actually given me photographs.  Isn't that interesting?

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