Thursday, January 29, 2009

Those Old Pictures

Boxes and boxes of photos .

Like old soldiers, they never die, they just fade away.

But there's a difference - when the soldiers fade away, there's an obituary for them with name, age, date of birth, and other historical stuff.

Unlike the soldiers, those boxes and boxes of fading photos do not in most cases have any identification. My archives contain hundreds of photos, many unidentified, much to my regret, because now I haven't the foggiest notion of what or who I see in these pictures.

Right about now when Yarntangler hears me saying to Lady B "put Carter's name and the date on the back of that picture so next year we'll know who we are looking at," I cringe when a pair of scornful eyes cast in my direction remind me that 18 years of ago, BB and Yarntangler sat in the barn and pored over rafts of unidentified pictures.

"Oh, look, here's a picture that looks something like Mom so it must be her mother," says BB, and then Yarntangler exclaims "this must be the one Dad calls Uncle Eddie, so let's put this one in the Reilly family box." The lady who looked like "Mom''s mother" went into the Ducharme box.

Now these two youngsters, daughters of mine, were trying to identify pictures from maybe 75-80 years ago before they were even in swaddling clothes, little ones now expected to magically know these pictured people.

Just as a reputation- saving piece of information;

I DID identify the gentleman shown here in the army uniform. That's Grampa Reilly, posing in the 1917 fashion supplied to all the guys who joined the elite force known as Uncle Sam's Army for World War I - "the war to end all wars". The suit belonged to Buck, his son.

There are still hordes of identity-less photos in those numerous boxes but thanks to the two girls they are now in envelopes of "might be" families.

Besides family pictures, there's a lot of scenes, photos of old cars, vacation trip sites, snowstorms and even automobile accidents and . . .

Oh, here's Frank Lincoln; he lived over on Lawrence Street and his wife was Anne. I took his picture . I don't remember why I knew them but it might have been when I sometimes took them grape jelly after my mother and I made it one Summer. Mrs. Lincoln was Mother's friend.

All those old pictures - or at least most - still have no identifications and I feel badly about that because there's a lot of lost history and I am the oldest one who would be able to make better guesses at what they are or who is depicted.

That all brings me to a bit of advice to everybody but especially to myself: Don't let many more days go by without getting out the old photo albums, picking out the photos and checking on the back for identifications. None there? Put some on if you can or find someone else who can help.

Another piece of advice concerns new photos. If you still get prints made, identify them on the back the day you get them. If you only get them on the computer, figure out how to label them.

As I write this I can hear Yarntangler muttering under her breath "yeah, he can tell everybody what to do but let's see the progress of his stuff next time I'm back."

Before I go, I just remembered something else - that baby up top is the mother of all my brood. She's seven months old in that picture.

- 30 -

Old Newsie


  1. I am loving your blogs. Surprise, I actually recognized some names in this one and could almost put faces to those names :-) I remember seeing a copy of that War Extra, probably on microfilm.

    Keep 'em comin'

  2. Yes, I am right there with Yarntangler. I remember vividly spending an entire summer with boxes and boxes of photos on a ping-pong table. Happily, once those were organised into 10 albums, Mom and Dad were kind enough to keep up with it.
    However, after My Grandmother died, my father took all her boxes of photos and pitched them. (An odd thing for a photographer.) I saved them and moved with them 17 times, ALL unidentified. Finally I was able to attend the annual family reunion in Hammond, In., and pulled them out . . . pen in hand. 3rd Cousins were pulling out pictures and saying "that's me!" I cocked my eye brow, and said "my apologies, but who are you?"
    Ahhh, well, extended family, always far, far, away.
    townsend, ma

  3. I recognize that place on the lake as the one that you Oldnewsie and Mom, Grandma Shasta went dancing at inyour heyday. She used to tell me about the dance contests that you won and Grandad won as a waltz master.
    I asked Yarntangler to email some photos to me so I can help with the IDs. Together we can make history rock
    Classy Brassy Broad.