« Yikes!! | Main | Easter »

April 15, 2006

Behind the family pictures

My cousin Charles is as close to an official family geneologist as we'll ever get. He has listed (publically) over 24,000 individuals going back minimally to the 1780 census. Popping over to the site the other day I realize he had again revised and updated it and, yowzer, added a whole crop of photos he must have scanned out of old family albums. This one I snagged:

click for larger image

From left to right, my grandfather David, my greatgrandfather Ulysses and my granduncle Cecil. As close as I can gauge the time of the photo, my grandfather looks about 12-14 years old and he was born in 1903.

I have only vague memories of my paternal grandfather. He died when I was four. I look at this picture and I see a young boy, clear eyed, unsmiling (as most people in vintage photos posed) but with a certain eagerness in his gaze. I marvel that my impression of the photo doesn't match the reality of the few stories I have of the man he would turn out to be.

He wasn't always a nice man. Suffice it to say that my father moved out on his own and supported himself at age 15.

So I find myself one of mixed feelings. I printed out this pic on photo paper and I'm wondering how my father would react if I gave this to him tomorrow. Has even enough time passed that it would appreciated as just a momento of ages gone by? A historical image of a line of people who just happened to pass on some of their DNA to one's own existence?

Or should I just put it into the family album I create to leave my own children, who have no closer relationship to such a distant relative than to people in their history books?

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, but those thousand words may lie.

Posted by Darleen at April 15, 2006 09:14 PM