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May 20, 2010

Treasures in a box

It's rare you can find the silver lining of being sick, but I did...just today in fact.

At home with a respiratory infection of some sort, I felt guilty sharing my germs with anyone and have been inside for the better part of the last four days. Today, it occurred to me that I had a wonderful opportunity to look through several boxes of family photos that I inherited when my grandparents moved in with my aunt and uncle awhile back. I dutifully took the photos home -- I'm the family genealogist and historian, after all. I packed them up when we moved last summer and brought them to a better space in the new house, never opening the boxes to have a look until today. Oh, but what treasures I found in there!

In years past, I've become quite familiar with my paternal grandmother's family history -- largely since most of it took place here in Whitley County. But my paternal grandfather's history has been largely a mystery. He doesn't elaborate much about it and I guess I've never asked enough questions. So, with each cabinet photo I pulled out of the box, I discovered a new ancestor this afternoon.
I determined that I must get my round face from the Clines, my dark eyes and arched eyebrows from the Zartmans and I've always thought my nose came from the Mains (on my mother's side). I determined that my grandfather looks a lot like his great aunt Monna and that my brother looks a lot like my grandfather's brother. I came across photos of so many great-great-great grandmothers and great-great-great grandfathers...I lost track truly. Plenty of new names to research...Mickelson, Burroughs, Cline, etc.
I found things that made me cry...letters written between family members when my grandfather's brother was in World War II and a tiny lock of brownish-auburn hair tucked inside an obituary for a baby girl who only lived five days -- my grandfather's baby sister. Such heartache my great-grandmother, Mary, endured losing two of her three children early in life. Still, she beemed in most of the photos I found of her -- the vibrant stories I've been told about her coming to life on photo paper.
I found things that made me wonder -- why is it that my grandmother appear to be smiling in most of her photos taken before she had four kids...but that she appears to be grimacing or spacing out in the ones when she has a whole brood clinging to her? Oh, wait, yeah...I understand. Four kids in a few years must have been mind-boggling -- and she worked, too. Still, the kids all looked perfectly neat and tidy clammoring around her and she looked dazed and bewildered.
I found things that made me laugh! I found quite a few photos of my dad as a little boy doing goofy, little boy type stunts. I found a great photo of my dad when "his hair was just gettin' good in the front" -- starting from far side of one temple in wavy combed-over bangs. Oh, and there was a great one of Uncle Roger with coarse, wild dark hair and some heavy duty cat-eye glasses.
I'm not sure when I'll have time again, but I'm looking forward to my next opportunity to dig through another box of momentos. I had to ration myself -- two boxes was enough for one day...and it gives me something to anticipate the next time I'm stuck in the house for a few days!

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