I've been sorting through stacks and boxes of old photographs lately and put my latest discoveries in the middle of the kitchen table yesterday so my Dad and I could look through them. A few years ago I had borrowed some family photos from his cousin to make photographic copies - this was well before scanners and digital cameras. This was all done on a copy stand with a 35mm SLR camera and closeup lenses. But I digress.
We spent the better part of the afternoon looking through the photos. Apparently we'd gone through this process once before because his handwriting was on the back of several of the photographs, with identification of who was in the photo. But there were still quite a few photos that weren't identified. As we went through them we were able to make identifications on everyone in the photos with the exception of a man Dad called an "unknown soldier." It was a photograph of Dad and his first cousins and a soldier in Army dress. Dad said he wasn't a member of the family but was spending time with the family that day and ended up in the photograph.
There was another photograph of his aunts and uncles with his grandmother and an unknown little girl. He thought it was me and I pointed out that his grandmother died about ten years before I was born, so it most definitely was not me. A few minutes later we came across a picture of him with his parents and younger sister. He pointed out that his sister was the unknown little girl in the other photograph because she was wearing the same dress. What a eye for detail! I had certainly missed that one.
It's fun to look through the photos because they open up conversation about Dad's childhood memories - and those go back 70 - 80 years. Because of the number of photographs of him and his cousins, I asked if the families spent a lot of time together. He replied that they did - his family frequently spent weekends at his grandparent's home (about a two hour drive, even today). The cousins from the home town also came to Lincoln to visit. He told how his aunt lived with his family for a while when she was attending cosmetology school. And his uncle lived with them for a while until he got settled in a job.
As we looked at the photos he had an embarrassed giggle and asked if I'd ever heard the story about when he was a small boy and his mother and aunt were sewing at his aunt's dining room table. This story did not sound familiar to me, so he went on. Somehow, he managed to get a pair of scissors and became fascinated with the fancy lace tablecloth draped over the sides of the table. So, quite meticulously, he began cutting lengthwise strips of fabric from the tablecloth. He said he got about half way around the table before his mischievousness was noticed. Understandably, his mother was furious, but he said if his aunt was upset, she certainly didn't show it. It seems that little boys, scissors and fancy lace tablecloths are a recipe for disaster!