Monday, June 16, 2008

Pictures I Will Never See Again

My mother was the keeper of the photographs. She loved her big old Brownie box camera, and took hundreds of pictures with it. She had some in an album. Most were just thrown into a big box. I loved to go through that box every chance I got.

When Mother passed on, my sister became custodian of the pictures. That was fine. And during that time, I did some darkroom work, and copied quite a few of them. When she passed, her daughter took over everything she had. My niece is an unhappy woman who seems to feel a need to possess everything she can. Even if she doesn't really want it - it is hers, and no one else must have it. After my sister's funeral, we went back to my niece's house. She had the album and picture box there, and we spent a long time reminiscing over them. I put aside quite a few that I really wanted, and told her that I would have them copied and return the originals. She would not allow that. She insisted that she would have them copied herself. Somehow I knew this would not happen. I had my Pentax with me, and actually photographed a dozen or so. She kept saying that wasn't necessary. That was the last time I ever saw the pictures.

But no matter. They are engraved in my memory. Unfortunately, I can't show them to my children and grandchildren.

Most were taken out-of-doors. Flash bulbs weren't around back then. There are a few pictures of my mother as a child. A couple were taken in the Pocono Mountains, where her mother took her "for the air" after a bout with scarlet fever. There are several of my father's family - Grandmother sitting on the front steps, surrounded by her nine children. One really cute one of my father and one of his brothers taken at South Cape Meadows. Way in the distance you can make out Cape May Lighthouse. They spent summer vacation here even then.

There are some of Mother and Daddy and some of their friends, before they were married - long skirts and big hats. The men wore those flat straw hats. All taking silly poses, as young people do. There are beautiful pictures of my sister and brother taken before I was born. Then there are pictures of my own life - as an infant in a big wicker carriage - with the family cat. My kindergarten picture. I can see every child in that class. There are many pictures of Jack, of course, and the DeVries kids from across the street, and other neighborhood friends. Birthday parties - my own and friends'. My mother's garden, and the house, always in the background. Our front porch. Oh yes, and my swing. Why it was hung in the doorway of the garage, I can't tell you. If you fell off on the back-swing, you landed on the cement floor. If you went flying off on the forward-swing, you hit the cinder driveway. But I didn't fall off very often.

There are pictures of us sitting on the beach in Ocean City, and of the rooming house where we stayed, and the boardwalk.

I have only one picture of Bill, my brother, in uniform in World WarII, but I remember others of him, in basic training, holding up a 7' snake he found in his sleeping bag with him when he woke up one morning; pictures of him overseas, with an English nurse; one of children in Belgium, sitting on a jeep. Then, when he came home, his wedding day. Mother and I wore the most terrible dresses to that wedding. Big shoulder pads were in at the time. Then pictures of his two daughters. My sister and her dear husband, and their daughter.

Well, it seems I don't really need to have those pictures after all. I remember them all so clearly, and they will always be with me, won't they? And the Lord knows, I've filled enough albums of my own that my children will not know what to do with them all when I've gone. I keep them in my computer, too. That seems to be what my kids do. I hope they print enough to pass on to their own families though. There's nothing like holding them in your hands and reminiscing.


Weary Hag said...

You have no idea how deeply this post touches me. I am currently going through the same situation with my mom and dad's old (and newer) photos. My mom was a huge fan of pictures. She was rarely seen without her camera.
She passed away nine years ago and the family sort of dispersed since. My father and I had a sort of falling out though we would speak if need be since then.

My older sister was their executor and boy she's made that clear over and over again and has now all but taken over their home, which was supposed to be sold and split four ways.

What breaks my heart the most?
All of mom's old photos. I'll never see them again.

Sorry this happened to you also.

Dianne said...

that's a shame bobbie that your niece doesn't feel the joy of sharing.

I got most of my Mom's stuff since I'm the oldest. We all got together and I basically said - what do you want/need/love

same when my sister died

funny thing is all I ever want is the sentimental stuff.

my brother (not the sweet baby one) the 'other brother' always wanted the jewelry, anything antique

me - I have a wood duck with a broken leg, a tea kettle, a scarf.

and now I am the keeper of all photos - since I take them all. I put them all up on kodak gallery and everyone can have all they want.

Anonymous said...

Bobbie: Thanks for sharing your memories with us. It's so sad you don't have the photographs so you can show them to others. Those precious moments captured once and, we hope, forever. You seem to have a marvellous memory!

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi! It is sad that your niece hasn't made copies of those pictures for you. It sounds like she is a bitter person. Even though you can see those pictures in your mind, it would be nice to be able to share them with your family.

I know when I was going through pictures that my mom had, (she didn't write on the back who they were). Those that I knew, I mailed the pictures to the family who were very appreciative. I had came across two pictures and it took some time for me to figure out who they were. When I realized it was my aunt and uncle in their early years, I mailed the them to their son, my cousin. To this day, he has never acknowledged them. Don't get me wrong. I wasn't looking for praise or anything, but a thank you would have been great.

Well anyway, I didn't want to go on a rant. Hey if you want we can go get the pictures. I can be very intimidating. Lisa

bobbie said...

Sounds like there's one in every family. My husband had a similar sad tale when his parents died, although it wasn't about pictures in that case.
Thanks for the intimidation offer, Lisa! Wow! But truthfully, Kitty already did that. No, she didn't get all the pictures to copy, but demanded those I had put aside. Of course by then, my niece had no idea, nor cared, which they might be, but she did grab a few and gave them to Kit to be copied. Kit gave me the copies. (I honestly don't think she gave the others back, but I'm not asking.) But I do have quite a few that I had copied years ago. It's enough. I don't want to stress out my niece any more. She obviously has her own problems.

LauraHinNJ said...

Makes me sad to read this... some people are so petty.

I'm the one who's ended up with the huge tub of family pix. I'm glad to have them, but wish there was someone to share the stories behind so many old photos.

Unknown said...

I have cousins who, though generally very nice, had this thing about keeping everything they could get their hands on that belonged to my paternal grandparents.

Being across the ocean, there was precious little I could do about it. My father did manage to scarf a terra cotta statue of a laughing baby that I always adored when I was little and a few other odds and ends. Having that baby statue is simply enough. I guess it has to be.

Great idea to have photographed the photographs. You are clever.

Minnesotablue said...

BOBBIE: This post touches me also. I love old pictures and love being able to touch them. They bring you so much closer to the person. I do have a few old tintypes of family members but alas I don't know who they are. I have a brother who lives out of state and he has most of the family pictures. He is very good about sending copies to anyone who wants them but it's not qiute the same is it?

pink dogwood said...

It is sad that you can't have those pictures. One time (I think around the time of hurricane katrina) we were discussing about what we would take with us if we had to evacuate the house on a moments notice - All I could think of taking with me was all the baby pictures of my two kids. I guess those must be my most cherished possesions.

me ann my camera said...

It is regretful that you longer have the photos to actually look at but your recall of them attaches so much warmth and feeling that the oral history portrays much of the visual. A few years before my mother died she sorted out all the old family photos and rearranged them in separate photo albums for my brothers and I. What I noticed from your writing was that you called your parents, "Mother and Daddy", so did I.

Judy said...

Bobbie, I am sorry to hear about your pictures but you have something no one can take away from you and that is your memories and they are very beautiful memories. It seems that selfish, spiteful, people are very unhappy people and end up paying in the end for their selfishness in one way or another. I totally believe in the old saying, "What goes around, comes around!

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

I can relate to this. My sister has all of the pictures of when I was growing up. My baby pictures, my growing up pictures, as well as all of my siblings. I don't know why it's important, but the older I get, the more I want to hang on to something of my youth.