Saturday, June 5, 2010

Family photos Day One

One thing I cannot pass up in my various weekly sojourns to Goodwill and estate sales : old family photos. Well, three things: old family photos, old lamps, and cheeky costume jewelry, but definitely in that order of precedence. Don't care whose family, don't care what's going on-- there's something thrilling about owning a private copy, possibly the only copy, of a minute in somebody else's life.

There's a poignant element to seeing a well-documented photo history of someone's life in a box at an estate sale at the curb, ready to go out with moldering copies of Family Circle and whatever else was in the attic. In discarded boxes of photos, I've found service records and snapshots from WWII, school photos from the 20's, high school letterman jacket letters, baptismal certificates from the turn of the century-- all kinds of things that had no business in the same landfill with empty soup cans and hamburger wrappers. It's a quick reminder, as estate sales are in general, that items that mean a great deal to you might not be nearly as valuable in the eyes of your descendants.

On the flip side, you can't help but feel like a chicken hawk sometimes swooping in to snap up a (deceased) stranger's memories. There was a famous incident in Old Hickory where I brought an album of 60's vacation snapshots in from an outbuilding, dusted it off, and asked the woman running the sale how much. "How much? For what? For THOSE? Those are my personal photographs! [more emphatically:] Those are members of my family...what in the world would you want with a bunch of pictures of my family?" These "precious heirlooms" were, mind you, in a disused barn under a stack of cobwebby milk crates-- but, honestly, what did I want with them? I managed a somewhat sheepish "I just collect old photographs", but I might as well have added "Along with fingerbones and cat skulls and other people's hair and ah, you know, just voodoo stuff. I dunno, it appeals for some reason" for the continued look I was given. If you can't stand the heat, Lisa...

While nothing will keep me for asking after bits of ephemera that might or might not get me an earful from the still living relatives of the deceased in the real world, I have to report that the internet has made my antiquitarian voyeur lifestyle a little more bearable. I've gotten into the habit lately of trying different searches on Google images and, in particular, Picasa, for people's family pictures. This started out innocuously enough with the search "Mom 1960", and had such good results, that I, of course, had to follow up with "Mom 1961" and on up and down the years, omitting the 19, replacing "Mom" with "Dad" or "Vacation" or "Florida" or "John" and seeing what the ensuing online albums were like.

Lord have mercy. So many great finds.

This week, as I've been extra super lax about remembering to actually finish editing and POSTING little sweet nothings on this blog like I've been telling myself I would, I thought I'd pin some of those pictures that've been languishing on my hard drive because, as said, I just about never met a vintage photo I didn't like. Please note not ONE of these pictures belong to me, nor do I probably have the right to distribute any, but keep your blind eye blind on that one, hm?

Today's theme: "You guys look great!!" See what you can see.


  1. The lady on the couch looks like some sort of pretty human/clam hybrid.

  2. girl, you are not alone. Lanier and i both have fantastic collections of old photos- ours and other peoples. these are awesome! do i smell a wine with black & whites party? also, i have Brenda Lee vinyls. YES.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...