A few weeks ago, while at my Grandfather's old home, I went up into the attic to clear it out what had been left up there for so many years. It was while I was up there that I realized many of the things that should see the light of day more often are usually stored up there for safe keeping, like a footlocker that belonged to my Great-Grandmother Sylvia. My Uncle had gone up there with me and was the one who pulled it out and opened it up. I was busy sorting through other things when I heard him say, "Oh. . . wow. . . " In this old piece of luggage, its metal hardware covered in rust, was a collection of old photos and letters, some of them dating back to the early 1800s. We sat there on the dusty floorboards of a tiny attic gazing through some of these photos, trying to decipher who these faces were that stared back at us. We recognized Grandma Sylvia easily. She had a distinct look and from what we could tell, many of the photos were of her side of the family. But then, we also came across a photo of two little boys sitting in an old wagon hitched to a goat. The oldest boy's face looked familiar. We turned the photo over and noticed the words "Bill and George," Bill being my Great-Grandfather. Half of the photos had inscription on them, and the other half did not. Some of them had black paper backing on it, as if they had been torn out of an old photo album. And so, a new journey begins.
Well I was very honored that the family allowed me to have not only the footlocker, but a suitcase also filled with more family history, as well as old family albums. My plan is to scan many of the photos to share with the family, but also, I really want to delve more into the history of this side of my family tree. There was something so . . . I can't even find the right words . . . neat, interesting, intriguing about the people in these photos. Their attire gradually changing over the years. Grandma Sylvia was a character. I still remember her from when I was a kid. When I wanted a snack, I'm thinking candy, she'd come back with a plate full of celery sticks, peanut butter and raisins running down the center of them. "Now this is what we had for snacks when I was a little girl." My first response of course was Yuck! And now, it's one of my favorites. She loved Peanuts, Linus and Snoopy being her favorites, and Winnie-the-Pooh. Her parents opened up one of the first theaters in the state of Iowa. Her brother Lewis fought in General MacArthur's Army in WWII. It was pretty neat finding a younger photo of her and her brother sitting against a backdrop of what looks like an earlier model airplane. This would be my favorite, along with the "goat wagon" photo.
What I found so comforting and amazing was the sheer amount of photographs that we found. It was very obvious to me that the folks in my family loved to make photographs. This has truly inspired me. The main reason why I wanted to become a photographer in the first place rested right here in this box. Photographs. The evidence of time gone by. My only heartbreak and regret was that the only person I knew who could definitively tell me about the faces in these photos had also been swept away with the tide of time. Visit your attics, my friends. Pull out those old photos. And if you can, find out their history before it too quickly fades away.