When “heirlooms” aren’t identified, and their stories never told, then they often become items that are tossed or sold – as they have no history, no ties to the family. So take the time to identify your family heirlooms history and memories so your treasures aren’t tossed in the trash. They are just as valuable as your family photographs and also need to be documented. Sometimes it’s not even the value of the item in question; it’s the story which holds the value.
Friday Night Family Heirlooms… telling their stories:
The Small Photos
On my post of Nov. 13th, The Little Weather House, I mentioned punch boards – a prize-type game where you pay money to punch a number to win a prize. It made me remember all the small photos I have that came from mama’s camera she won on a punch board. She doesn’t remember know what happened to the camera, but she saved the photos.
Naturally I made a phone call to my mother asking question after question until she said, “I guess if I had kept a diary when I was young, then you would have all your questions answered.” And my answer, “yes that would have been perfect!”
Mama was about fourteen when she won the small camera on a punch board. The board wasn’t in a store – it was a board she must have written away for; if you sold all the punches on the board – sent the money in – then you were sent the camera.
She took the board to town on Saturday’s, selling to anyone she could talk into buying a punch – which was most of her daddy’s friends who hung around the local, and only, filling station where her father went on Saturday. I don’t think I can ask her anymore questions on this – but I still have one more question; how did she send the money to the company?
I’m sure mama was a happy girl when her package arrived with that camera; she told me how she and her best girlfriend, Willie Mae, took off up the dirt road taking pictures of themselves being silly. They thought they were a big wheel having a camera in 1944. As I don’t have many photographs, I might assume it came with only one roll of film. They are about 1 1/2 inches in size. After they finished, mama took the film to Johnson’s Pharmacy in town for developing; I’m sure granddaddy told her no more pictures would he pay for. He was a very frugal man and paying for useless photographs of two girls running up and down the road snapping pictures was not something he was interested in. But I’m thankful she won that camera as when I sat down and took another close-up look at each of those small pictures, and their backgrounds, I discovered a treasure I might have missed.
I find myself sometimes often not looking at the subject in old photographs, but becoming swallowed up in the background objects. In the background of one of those small pictures of her best friend, Willie Mae (Walker) Sisson, was something that caught my eye. There was one of granddaddy’s barns, way up on the hill. I have no photographs of his barns, only what’s in my mind – but now I can see one of them again, because of mama’s small photos. Life is good!
Willie Mae was mama’s friend for over eighty years; Willie died earlier this year. They were best friends from the moment they met in first grade – they both looked at each other and said “I don’t think I’m going to like it here.” From that day forward, they did everything together, fought over boys, literally fighting sometimes, shared clothes and married men who were best friends.Thank You mama for just the right angle in taking this photograph. See, you did know how to take a picture!
As I looked at this photograph, the building way in the right background caught my eye – and as I enlarged it – there it was – granddaddy’s barn!
Mama standing in front of one of the pine trees. You can read Riding the Pines for the story. In picture on right, looks like she’s actually in the tree Riding the Pine branch! Another Aha Moment in looking closer at the small photos – never noticed before that she actually was straddling the pine tree branch.
So you know what granddaddy, I’m happy you paid for these photographs – they are priceless to me!
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© 2015 Jeanne Bryan Insalaco