My aunt Martha died last year; she was the oldest surviving member of my dad's family and just about the last link with my paternal relatives, apart from her daughter, my cousin Marcia, whom I usually correspond with only at Christmas. So I was surprised and pleased to receive a letter from Marcia recently, even more so when I opened it to find the enclosures she'd sent along.
It seems she's been going through Aunt Martha's things, and thought I would like to have a number of old family photographs of my dad as a boy and young man. I was thrilled! Not only were most of the photographs ones I had never seen, but the few that used to be in my mother's possession disappeared mysteriously back in the 1970's. (I think I know who has them! Grrrr....)
Up until now, the only photo I had of my dad as a kid was one of his old class photographs, on which he's listed the name of every classmate, but not the year or grade of the picture. He looks pretty young, though, so I'd say maybe it's his first or second grade portrait. He's the little blond kid 5th from the left in the middle row.
So, anyway, to open this letter and have these wonderful old black and white snapshots fall into my lap was a wonder and a blessing I had never anticipated. They've opened a whole new window into my dad's world in the 1930's and 1940's. How I wish I could ask him questions about these events and people he's posed with!
This one has been captioned "Lazy Bones" in my grandmother's careful printing, and on the back the dog's name is given as "Trixy". My dad always "loved dogs to death," as he once phrased it. I'm guessing he's maybe 6 or 7 in this photo, so this would have been about 1934 or '35.
Here's a groovy picture from about the same time. Dig those knickerbockers! Daddy's standing with his oldest sister, my Aunt Lois, in this photo.
Now the photos jump a bit to about 1939-1940. Daddy's posing with a dog again; I wonder if it's Trixy? I'm impressed with the sweater, and it looks like he's wearing a tie, too. Way down at the end of the lane, on the left side, right by the road stands a big tree. By the time I came along, this was a rotting stump. I remember how my cousin Marilyn (Aunt Martha's youngest daughter) and I used to display our pieces of pretty rose quartz and other rocks on the stump, hoping to sell them to drivers who passed by. No one ever stopped to buy any, but we kept trying!
The notation on the back of this photograph says dad is "in his wedding suit". Since he would have been 13 years old, tops, I think it's safe to assume this was his sister Lois's wedding being referred to.
This one is my favorite, I think! This was Daddy's 8th grade school portrait.
I'm wondering if it was this year that he had his famous run-in with a pro-German science teacher whom he despised? I can't remember the teacher's name, but Daddy always got a mischievous sparkle in his eye and a good laugh when he recounted the story. These were the years just before World War II broke out. It seems the teacher was forever bragging about the Germans and their accomplishments. "The Germans have invented this" and "The Germans have invented that" "Germany is so superior to the United States because" and so on. One day it was particularly galling. It seemed, boasted the teacher, that German scientists had perfected the most powerful acid ever. It was so powerful it could eat through every substance known to man! The teacher puffed up with pride as he expounded on this amazing breakthrough. That is, until my Dad piped up with a question, "So, what do they keep it in?" I guess that shut down the boasting for a while.
And that's the last glimpse I have of Daddy until he's a young man of about 15 or so, when he appears, once again, with a dog.
The pup's name is given as "6 week old Skeeter". I see Daddy's got muscles in his arms. He was a farm boy, I'm sure he did a lot of haying and other chores.
The last of the photographs: Daddy on the left, in his Navy pea coat and hat, with his cousin Bruce. He joined the Navy at 16, at the tail end of WWII, but never saw action.
I wonder if today's family histories will be remembered in future generations, with all the photos in digital form instead of printed on glossy paper? When today's technology is obsolete, will the flash drives just be tossed in a drawer and forgotten, along with all the memories of people and events they hold?
Let us put by some hour of every day for holy things...
Think on th' eternal home,
The Saviour left for you;
Think on the Lord most holy, come
To dwell with hearts untrue:
So shall ye tread untired His pastoral ways,
And in the darkness sing your carol of high praise.
--from Keble's The Christian Year, Thoughts in Verse