Friday, April 30, 2010


More than ten years ago, four plastic under-the-bed storage boxes full of old pictures found their way to my basement. They were a “gift” from my parents when they downsized in 1999, moving from their house to an apartment.

You’ve seen some of the pictures in this blog—the old black and whites, some of them dating all the way back to the 1800s. Most of the photographs in the boxes were pictures my parents had taken, but many were passed down from their parents. My Aunt Clara’s pictures even ended up in the mix after she died in 1995.

Retired people are required by the laws of common decency to have projects to keep them occupied. So these four boxes of pictures have become my latest project. I’ve started scanning some of the pictures so that all of my siblings and their children will have access to this photographic family history--whether they want it or not. I don’t want to show up at a family reunion one day and see someone wearing a tee-shirt that reads, “You got all the historical family pictures and all I got was this lousy tee-shirt.”

All this week, I’ve been sorting, organizing, stacking, piling, (and even throwing) until the four plastic boxes were reduced down to two plastic boxes.

Yesterday I started scanning.

I found that my father has exactly 12 pictures that represent the first 24 years of his life from his birth in 1917 to 1941 when he got married. My mother has exactly 15 pictures that represent her life from her birth in 1918 to 1941. (Compare that to a baby born in 2010 who will have 800 digital photographs taken prior to leaving the maternity ward of the hospital two days after its birth.)

My goal is to reduce these piles into one neat electronic storage device that can be copied for any family member, whether child, grandchild, great grandchild—or all the great-greats that will follow:

Occasionally I’ve stumbled across treasures such as the two pictures below, taken of my three older siblings in about 1948 or so, before I was even born.

I’ve got 150 years of family history spread out all over my office, the priceless pictures that create a link between the great-great grandparents who came over from Norway in the 1860s to the current family in 2010. Treasures. I know I have possession of the real family jewels.


Anonymous said...

And then there is the child who doesn't even have a baby picture-yes that is me-Annette-#5 and the "mistake". Is it any wonder I have psychological problems that I solve by eating chocolate chip cookies?????? Grandma Nettie

2to4aday said...

Dear Nettie: Please check your email. Through the marvels of modern technology (a.k.a. airbrushing), I have MADE you your very own baby picture. I magically erased the other four older siblings (poof! they're gone) and you have a picture of your very own. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

I think it is too late to repair the damage that has been done. Grandma Nettie PS But thank you for the effort.

Anonymous said...

I remember my red straw hat! Mom knew about ultraviolet rays back in the 40s. ejb