Apples, photos and long gone relatives

The apple never falls far from the tree.

My mother used to say that a lot. Mostly it was in reference to children’s bad habits that mimic the bad habits of the parents but not always.

The past few months I have been wrestling with a family picture project. I have blogged about it. I have two shoeboxes full of old photos of my parents, their siblings and a very few of my grandparents. That’s all, just two shoeboxes to cover 50 years.

Many of the photos are taken from a distance and are blurry. On some the face is in a shadow. There are wrinkles (on the photos not the faces) and blotches. Not the best photos. None of them would even get an honorable mention at an exhibition of old photos.

The project itself has brought back many wonderful memories and with that comes wistful longing for those days. It was my childhood which was mostly good. (Hey, I can’t complain about bad hair days when I was a child, can I?)

Summer picnics, big parties, kegs of root beer (and other stuff which I wasn’t allowed to touch), hot dogs and all kinds of wonderful ethnic food.

There were a few surprises. My Dad was a very handsome man. He died when I was ten so to me he was just Dad. In looking at pictures of him when he was young, he was pretty gorgeous.

My handsome father as a young man.

My handsome father as a young man.

My Mom didn’t like her picture taken. That means I don’t have a lot of pictures of her. She was not a thin person – not overly big – just large enough that photos weren’t complimentary. That is a real shame. To me, my mother was beautiful but I have so few photos to admire.

My mother as a schoolgirl.

My mother as a schoolgirl.

I am always amazed at how young all these aunts and uncles were once. I know that sounds silly but when your memory is of folks in the 60s and 70s and 80s looking their age (or older), you forget that they were once….well….young.

My aunts being young and carefree!

My aunts being young and carefree!

Here are my parents with my oldest brother, circa winter 1929.

My parents very young-ed

The worst part is that I have so few pictures. Many people especially women start to hide from pictures as they age. They will take thousands of photos of their children but run from the camera. Why?

Maybe we see ourselves as we were around age 25. Maybe it’s the recognition of aging. Maybe we’re nuts. (I vote for that one.) The ultimate shame is that there are no pictures for children and grandchildren to remember.

About that apple, just like my mother, I don’t like my picture taken either. For me it’s not about weight but that flat two-dimensional photo doesn’t look like what I see in the mirror. In decades to come when someone else is trying to put together a photo album, I probably won’t be in it!

In order to be helpful I am posting three pictures of me. They are also not great photos. The last one has my new eye makeup (yes, I know you can’t see it!) This should do for posterity.

Here I am with the Christmas tree at age 7

Here I am with the Christmas tree at age 7

Here I am at age 40

Here I am at age 40

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Here I am today at 66.

43 thoughts on “Apples, photos and long gone relatives

  1. Wow! That’s some spread in ages between you and your oldest brother.

    I don’t always cooperate with camera wielding folks because, really, everything is NOT a Kodak Moment. I would make a terrible celebrity ~ when the paparazzi started snapping away, I’d SNAP right back. 😀

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  2. May I look so great when I’m 66! In the last 20 years I’ve weighed from 115 pounds to 330 pounds (crazy right?). I hate my fat pictures but I make myself get in the picture anyway because the memories are important to me. It drives me nuts–start getting in the pictures! That’s what you wished your mom had done–she was beautiful in everyone’s eyes but her own.

    We need to talk. My dad died when I was nine and I too have precious few pictures of him. We seem to have way too much in common…

    On the subject of family history read A Quack’s Daughter by Greta Nettleton. Amazing book and amazing woman!

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    • I was ten when my Dad died. My mother lost her father at age nine. It was hard to grow up without a father. I know that these days, there are many families like that but back then, it was unusual. I will check out the book! Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. I’m so glad you shared your photos, Kate, and with the accompanying message! Your sense of humor and kindness seems to have melted the years away! 🙂

    I completely agree with you about the “hiding” out. I have avoided photos for a long time. For one thing, I tend to not like them, but then at times I’m the family photographer and I take time with staging a photo of other adults, but when I hand the camera to my husband or daughter or someone else, they snap it in two minutes and usually catch me in the most unflattering pose possible. BUT, I have two granddaughters. And I have been almost forcing myself to get over my ego here, and just BE. They won’t care one day that my hair looks silly or I didn’t take off my glasses or dental work shows! Thanks for this message today. And I just feel the wistfulness you’re sharing. In the end our memories and photos are all we have. Yes, your dad was wonderfully handsome! ox

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  4. You look great! But then, you might say the same about me…but we never think we ourselves look great, especially after a certain age. Thanks for a post that made me think!

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  5. Of course,. growing up in a time when you had to buy a roll of film, then use it sparringly. Then in the 1980’s we got the 1houy processing on every street corner – and free film back everytime led tothe number of pictures of freinds and relatives increasing enormously. Today the ubiquitous digital camera allows for shot after shot, many of which are seldom seen or printed, but some them appearing on Facebum and being seen by thousands of people.

    I have just 3 pictures of me when I ws young. Two of my father and three of my mother. But I must have about 200 hundred pictures of my children as they are growing up. It’s great fun to flip through them.

    It has recently been etsimated that of all the photographs ever taken, 50 per cent of them were taken last year!

    Incidently, you look simply splendid in your contempory picture.

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    • Oh how true! All the pictures of me as a young adult were vacation pictures because that’s when you took pictures. The second one (me at 40) was really the edge of a picture where I was looking into a museum at Salem Massachusetts. I liked the lighting so I cropped it to use but it wasn’t taken to be a photo of me.

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  6. I love this post Kate. The old photos make me want to cry for all that lost youth, your handsome Dad, your sweet faced Mom, and the carefree Aunts. You, Kate, are simply beautiful from childhood to right now. Save this post for posterity for sure. 🙂

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  7. I have always said that since there are almost no photos of me, when they have to print the folders for my funeral they will have to use my driver’s license photo. You, however, are beautiful and there should be more photos of you.

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  8. I am the worst offender of dodging the camera in our house. This really has me re-thinking that decision. One day my daughter might be going through just like you and would hate for her to be disappointed. You are beautiful as are your photos!

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  9. I think the only thing sadder than having no pictures is having a box of photos of people that we don’t even know. When my grandparents moved off the farm, my Dad (their oldest) was given a box of photos — threshing photos, young ladies being carefree like your aunts were above, etc. And no one alive now knows who they are = but they were dear enough to someone to snap their photo. Makes me sad.

    Like others have said .. you’re a beautiful lady then and now 🙂

    Cheers!
    MJ

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  10. Now, Kate, you stop that … you are beautiful. When I look back, I see my younger self in a much different light and wonder why we all are so hard on ourselves. Give your family photographers a break and let them snap away. You’ll be giving them something to treasure.

    I, apparently, am our family’s historian as I have all the family photos. What isn’t in the albums have been posted by my brother on Facebook. Good luck to you as you organize the photos.

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  11. Beautiful! I have two baskets of photos that I have no idea where to begin and how to organize them. I have one photo of my grandmother with her sisters and husband. It is framed and I always think they have so many stories to tell.

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  12. It really IS a shame that we tend to avoid being photographed as we get older … I have avoided the camera for many, many years (weight, shame) and now, when I look back at photos of fun family times, I’m always conspicuously absent from all the photos. The last photo I have of myself that I actually kind of liked was when my youngest son was a toddler (30 plus years ago). In a hundred years, it would be hard to prove I existed past the age of 30-35, but here I still am, in my mid-fifties, and still hiding from the camera. Too bad.

    By the way, if I looked as pretty as you do in the photo above, I wouldn’t be hiding from any cameras. You have a very nice smile, and even though we can’t see the new make up, you still have a happy glow that kind of sparkles in the photo. Isn’t it silly how we avoid the camera?

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    • Yes it is silly the dance we do with that camera. I have been following you for a while so I remember when you had a picture on your blog. As I remember you were smiling pretty blonde lady!

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