Posts Tagged ‘old photos’

The past couple of days have been exhausting emotionally. I reduced my saved memorabilia by two thirds. That was easy. No one cares if I went to see John Mellencamp and saved the ticket stubs or that I saved *every* piece of literature from our Yellowstone vacation. I filled two boxes with stuff I recycled.

Then came the saved letters. THAT was emotional. I saved letters from my Great Aunts, my Gramma Melrose, my Aunt Phyllis, my sisters Deni and Cyndi, and a few from my parents. They are all gone now: Great Aunt Cindy, Great Aunt Doris, Gramma, Aunt Phyl, Cyndi, Deni, Mom, Dad. I decided to pass on the letters from Cyndi to her oldest daughter, who is still reeling from her mother’s passing last summer.

I read through the few I saved from my sister, beginning with the one she wrote from Idaho State Penitentiary. My parents had been silent on the issue of my sister, so I was completely blind-sided by her location. It made sense, even without knowing the story. My sister leaned a lot toward the outlaw side of life. She was a self-confessed “black sheep” in a family with a history of law enforcement. She was also witty, smart, funny, and genuine. She simply had very bad taste in men and an addictive personality.

Her letters are everything she was: struggling poor, a loving mother, an optimist, and a sucker for men who didn’t care about her or the babies they fathered. I’m passing those letters on to one of her children.

I started writing penpals in the late 1960s. There was a column in Western Horseman Magazine where you could connect and find other kids as horse crazy as yourself. Most of those penpals drifted off through the years, but I have stayed in touch with two of them for – what? 52 some odd years. And I saved almost all of those letters. Two years ago, one of those dear friends suddenly – and angrily – unfriended me. It was heart-wrenching, confusing, and completely out of the blue. I didn’t “like” a comment she made on Facebook and – just like that – our friendship was over.

I didn’t save any of her letters. I can’t bear to read them, to taste the sense of deep fellowship that I thought we had, knowing how abruptly she chose to end it all.

Today was better. I moved to photographs, starting with all the loose ones. I trashed duplicates, photos of kids I don’t remember, and recycled all the metal frames I used to display enlarged photos. I checked photo albums against the loose photos, filling in the gaps as I could. I’m missing photos. I tossed photo albums that were falling apart.


Ignore the unicorn. These are the photos I tackled today.

I scanned photos of my childhood, especially any of my sister, tagging my niece and nephew as I did so. They have nothing of hers, the precious few photos I have of her are gems for them.

Finally, I tried to make sense of a timeline for the loose photos. My mother dated hers – that was easy. My dad’s weren’t dated but I can make an educated guess. The photos of my kids, however… WHY didn’t I date them?! I can guess based on their faces, but… I guess it will just be “close enough”. Fortunately, from 2004 through 2005, I previously sorted and dated the photos.

After 2005, I went digital.

Now all I need to do is to insert the photos into the three albums I purchased (probably in 2006 or 2007). Hopefully, I have less than 900 photos to deal with. If I have more… UGH. I just want this project over with.


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A comment left on my previous post prompted me to hunt down some of my old, mysterious photos. MooreGenealogy is not only a great blog, but I discovered he is a wonderful resource for the beginning genealogist – and finishing those family trees is one of my two resolutions this year.

OK- three, if you count the resolve to avoid car accidents this year. I think two new bumpers on my poor, besieged KIA is enough!

I only found four of the many mystery photos and I found them only because I had an idea where they were presently stored. I really need to get a handle on the photos around here! So maybe I should add another resolution: fill those photo albums finally. We’ll see. One day at a time, you know?


There is no photographer’s mark on this photo. I think she was a Cusick, but I can’t swear to it. I only know she came to me from my parents and the children are beautiful. It can’t be my father and his sister: the age spread is too wide and the baby is not fat enough. My dad was a fat baby. But the woman looks a little like my grandmother, Sylvia Cusick Wilcox. Same nose.


Whoever she was, she was glamorous, poised, and very pretty. My biggest problem with these photos is not who they are, but how beautiful the photos are: the staging, the lighting, the pose. Whoever the photographers were, they were professionals at getting their subjects to look natural and to hold that pose. It wasn’t point-and-shoot, but was a very long, drawn-out process to take one photograph.


I *love* this woman’s hair. She has that nose that is peculiar to both sides of my family: Melrose and Wilcox. She must be up the Wilcox line because the photo was taken in Chicago: Fordtran Studios, Blue Island, Chicage. Chicago Heights. Or she was a Kimmey. She could be a Kimmey.


This photo. Great Grandmother Wilcox with her baby girl, Mary Elizabeth. Mary Elizabeth shared a birthday with me: November 2. This photo was taken on6/24/1907.

Mary Elizabeth died on 8/13/1907.

I can only imagine the anguish of the young parents. My grandfather was 9 years old when his only sibling died. He named his first-born child, a daughter, Mary Elizabeth, after his sister.

She was such a happy baby. She looks so much like a Wilcox (poor thing).

I assume the woman holding her was my Great Grandmother.

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