The joys of family photographs


                I have learned from many people that we are the stories that we tell and the stories that are told about us. This was made real again for me when I recently visited my sister and her family and we spent hours going through some old boxes of family photos and documents. When I think of family elders I immediately think of my parents and grandparents and my father’s brothers and sisters. All of those wonderful people have passed away and those stories are no longer able to be told by them. I suppose that the elders in my family are now my older cousins and so stories can still be shared. Photographs are a fantastic way to begin those stories and I look forward to sharing some of the photos I recently viewed and then sitting back and sharing stories about the events and the people that participated in them.

                Many of the photos and documents that we looked at recently brought back a lot of memories and raised an equal amount of questions. We found a pack of photos kept in an old zip lock bag and when we examined them we found many of them had a ‘screened by naval censor’ stamped on them. They were obviously a collection of photos that my mother had sent to my dad during WWII when he was stationed on Leyte. They contained a lot of shots of family, some of my cousins when they were very young, and one of my mother posing (sort of like Betty Grable I imagined) in front of a door. There was another group of photos that my dad had taken when he was in Leyte – some of the camps he lived in and some of his Marine buddies. I was stunned to see how thin my father was – don’t suppose C-rations were very appetizing. There was also a discharge document that had two questions on it on which my dad gave answers that surprised me. One question was what was he interested in studying when he was discharged – his answer was ‘college journalism’. The other was what occupation interested him – that answer was ‘civil service’. There is some irony that my father spoke very little about his experiences and I have no knowledge that he ever did any writing – how I wish that were not the case. When he was discharged he never did follow up on the college journalism response. He came home to a family (I was born in 1947) and decided that work was imperative. He did go to a business school to study banking and accounting.

                Part of the collection of photos was a group of shots from family reunion picnics – some going back to 1949. I look forward to sharing those with my older cousins and sharing their memories as we talk about the photos. There were many games and activities pictured in those albums that still take place at more recent family reunion picnics. It was reassuring to see many of those activities passed down through many decades.

                Part of the reason for my blog is to put some of my memories into words so that they can be shared by family and friends, and for those stories that are memorable to be passed on down through the years.

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