Imagine the Images

Well, here we are with an “Open Week” at 4F,1H and I have no book out and nothing recently published. There is no holiday, the New Year and Winter have been covered.
Not much new except a bunch of doctors and believe me, you don’t want to hear me on that!

I have been sitting here at nights watching, (sort of), Netflix and sorting, (sort-of), photographs.
I am in possession of thousands of pictures of family. A very few are of my father and his family. Some are of my husband and his side, many were my mother’s, of her family,(both generations), and friends,(c.1920-1960’s). The bulk are those taken by me from the late 1960’s through a couple of years ago when I went digital…and I’ve been quite a shutterbug.

I have only gotten up to the ones of the ’60’s. I tried to sort most of them some years ago, and placed them in envelopes, but no one ever saw them , so what is the sense of having them, then?
I have purchase a number of albums, some new or unused from thrift shops so I can afford enough, and I am trying to make some sense of the boxes of pix…

I sat my mother down a couple of years before she died and had her tell me the names of everyone in every picture she had and wrote them on the back .This was precipitated by the gift of a copy of my husband’s great-grandparent’s wedding picture. The great-aunt who gave it to us could identify only the bride and groom in the photo, yet there are about 30 other people in the picture. Such a shame; there are others like that, as well.

I also have some pictures that belonged to my aunt and fortunately, I know the people or they are the same as those in my mother’s, but not always. I have an autographed picture of whom I am told was a ‘famous opera singer’; she is certainly posed like a diva. Who she actually is, though, I have no idea.

As I sort along, I realize that I have many photos that are taken at the same time, of
the same people, at the same place. Fortunately, the albums I chose to use are pocket-
type, so I can slide similar pictures behind each other.( My sister was the darling of her
generation, the first daughter of a sister in an Italian family; we have multiple pictures of
her every outfit and step. Then we have the many pictures from California from an
uncle’s girlfriend who tried to insinuate herself into the family. The pictures of the beach
are nice). If anyone is interested, there they are.

I know that it is going to get harder to keep all the shots. I took far too many pictures
during holidays, outings, Scout and school functions…and far too many of pets, most
long gone, that no one here would know which they were or how we loved them.

I hate to throw any pictures away, but I have to face reality. Many pictures are
redundant, many are simply not good shots and some have no connection with future generations.

One cousin has found and emailed more pictures of my father and his family than I ever knew existed and I am grateful. I sent the cousins on my mother’s side pictures of their parents that my mother and aunt had. I hope that my progeny appreciate some of the pictures I intend to send down the generations, but they won’t want ten pictures of a second-grade field trip any more than I understand why I have so many of the girls who lived in the WWII boarding house with my mother. I know the names but never met the people in photos who were my grandparent’s neighbors, several of one uncle’s girlfriends or an often-married aunt’s first husband; they mean little to me and mean nothing to my sons. I will keep the pictures for now, but not put them in albums. I wonder who will be the one to throw them out?

I have also found programs, articles notes, announcements, invitations, etc. I have placed these in plastic sleeves in a large binder, which I plan on placing with the pictures.. My mother burned most of her papers and my father never kept any. I am of two minds about my own; do I keep them all? Will anyone care? Do I want everyone to know some things? Yet, do I want everyone to make assumptions if I don’t? I am so pleased that my aunt saw fit to save most of her papers. I have a spot in a national magazine utilizing them,(supposedly; you’ll know if and when the editor comes through), and I am considering writing more to create a story with ideas inspired by her, based on what I know and what I found in her papers and pix, mixed with a little artistic license.

[Thanks to Jeff and his inspiration of ‘The Overnighter’s Secrets’ for giving my attempts at archiving a boot and opening the idea that I can ’embroider’ on the snippets of reality found in pictures and programs.]

Wish me luck; I haven’t even started on the many pictures that I took of my nieces, let alone those of my sons and the earliest ones of their children…and I won’t even go into my half-hearted attempt to upload, sort and put on disks the many digital images of the grandkids, gardens , flowers and …yep, food.(For my blog, you know.)

What do you think? Should everything be saved? Surely, the pictures of ancestors and most of us in younger days,(if only to show the grandkids that we weren’t always ‘old’), and even interesting shots of people who were known to others but are strangers to us here and now, if they are in interesting dress or old cars, but where do you suggest I draw the line?


About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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16 Responses to Imagine the Images

  1. yep! keep them all- they are a treasure and lucky you are to have them!!!!


    • Yeah,I’ll let those farther down the family tree dump them. Even though I have no idea who the neighbors of my mother’s were,I’ll stick them in an envelop.
      I found a really cool picture of a man dressed up, driving an old car,(new then), circa 1930’s.I have no idea who he is, even though his name is written on the back. The name doesn’t ring a bell with my cousins, either…but picture is not only a ‘keeper’, it’s a ‘show-er’!


  2. jeff salter says:

    Wonderful that you’re preserving the family history / heritage thru these photos and some pertinent papers. Every family needs at least one person per generation to do that.
    My mom’s side of the family had a lot of ‘lost history’. She inherited several large framed photos which had been on the walls of the ancestral home, so we know those folks were important, but nobody knows who they are. What a shame.
    I have a cousin on my Dad’s side who has done a lot of genealogical research and I hope someday to get a copy of some of her distillations. Another cousin has been collecting (& labeling) digital photos of the extended family.

    As far as leaving “papers” my dad left way too many: binders and binders full of correspondence (much related to his various workplaces). I think that is basically useless to the generations to follow. Family corres — certainly … keep some, selections, samples, etc. I’ve known lots of people who shred or discard basically everything, incl. letters, cards, etc. and it puzzles me.

    Glad you think you may be able to combine some sort of fictional plot with some of your family history. That gives it a richness and authenticity which is otherwise difficult to achieve.
    Best of luck with that project.


  3. Thanks, Jeff. One cousin is working on my father’s side, which I knew little about; I never saw a picture of my father when young before his research, nor one of my grandfather.Now,I even have pictures of my father’s grandparents on both sides, and a set of his.great-grandparents.
    My mother had some interesting correspondence, but she burned it.I found of my brother’s letters from Viet Nam the other night.
    My aunt has a number of letters to the sisters from the 1940’s-50’s from their mother,but none of us can read enough Italian to make sense of them.One day, we’ll find someone, I hope.
    On the other hand,I really took too many pictures.And who will want to see the dog who lived next door to my mother in 1946?


    • jeff salter says:

      And that’s precisely the big question. If you become famous, researchers will want to pour over every single detail of your life, including the little dog next door to your mom.
      But if you leave this life as merely another mortal, only your family (& friends) will need access to your legacy … and only the “high points”.
      One thing I’ve actually asked myself occasionally when faced with a decision to keep some scrap of something: “will my biographer need this?”


      • Well, Jeff, they’ll make it up if they don’t have it!
        But the pix of all the non-famous gals in the boarding house that are all departed now I’m sure will be tossed by The Next Generation.


  4. In the future, these “hard copy” photographic memories are probably be so important and valuable! Who knows, in a hundred years, pictures will be worth millions on Antique Road Show. Save them!! post them with your embroidered stories. I would love to read that!
    PS My fantasy life continued today. I’m almost embarrassed to tell you what I have, if you’re intrigued, go to my FB page!


  5. Iris B says:

    YES YES YES – you need to keep them, and you need to pass them on! I love photos and I sometimes curse myself for not organising and printing them more often. They might be on the computer, but hey, I find my two girls quite often in a little corner of the house browsing through old photos. We love it! And thanks to scanning, I finally get a few photos from mum’s family and when she was young. oh man, and all the other stuff – you’re lucky to have found it! Treasure it.


    • Well,Iris,I have always been a ‘keeper'(packrat) and I used to hang on to everything,EVERYTHING, and often not even use or enjoy things, just kept them.The pictures of people that no one knows any more will be thrown out by someone. I WILL thin out the bad shots, the redundant, blurry ones that I took, as long as they ARE redundant or truly bad pictures. You have no idea how many here are!


  6. Micki Gibson says:

    I vote yes for keeping them. I get the thing about tossing the redundant and bad shots. It’s much easier to trash (delete for the digital age) once you’re past the moment. Time makes it easier to determine the keepers. Incidentally, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t comment until today since yesterday I just got a photo book from our June vacation with college friends. Two of my friends are big time into scrapbooking. Me? Not so much, but I like to do it every now and then. Anyhow, these two friends wenth through all the photos from our trip to Lake Lure on Shutterfly and set up a photo book for the rest of us to order if we were so inclined. I’m so glad I have friends who love to do this kind of thing, because I really appreciate their efforts.


    • It’s ‘getting a grip’ , Micki! I now realize that I do not have to keep every shot, (including the bad ones), taken when there are perfectly good ones that I got at the same time.On the other hand,I only have ‘bad’ shots of my mother from the last 30 years of her life because she didn’t like to be seen no longer looking like Rita Hayworth!

      You have to love the digital age for the fact that we can shoot and shoot and not count the cost and we can pretty well make sure we actually HAVE the shot, and we can email and post them immediately.One the other hand, I have only gotten shots of last year’s family reunion printed out for my aunt who can’t get the images on her computer! Here I sit scads of images in the computer or on disks. My son’s girlfriend got me a digital picture frame for Christmas…haven’t set it up yet, but I will!

      I’ll let The kids throw out my aunt’s friends that we don’t know.


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