A Disappointing Curiosity

A few weeks ago I decided to finally start going through all of Mike's parents' belongings that have been stored in our basement for the past year. I had avoided this enormous undertaking for a long time bc it involved sorting through literally thousands of photos and removing what seemed like hundreds of them from old picture frames.

But I did it. I sat down in the basement, turned on the tv for some company, and started opening boxes.

And boxes.

And boxes.

And that's when I came across the most fascinating photos. Mike's dad, Jimmy, had kept many of his relatives' photos from what appeared to be the very late 1800's and early 1900's, and I found myself wondering over them, desperately wishing I'd known they existed before Jimmy's passing. Old photographs never cease to bring me great curiosity, and I'm sad that I could have known who was in these photos, if I'd only thought to ask.

But how do you ask someone, "So… do you have any photos from the turn of the century that you could show me?" I suppose you ask them just like that.. if you think of it. Most of the time, however, I was busy trying to think of ways to get Mike's mother, Frieda, to talk about her childhood – one that was spent growing up during World War II in Germany. It never occurred to me that my father in-law, born in the great state of Texas, would have just as interesting of a childhood.

So I'm left with these old black-and-white photographs, filled with people who are linked to our family somehow. I took a few photos of them when I was in the basement, so I could share them with you – just in case you like old photos as much as I do. 🙂

First, I'll show you one of Jimmy as a baby, and those are his shoes. I think he's one of the most beautiful baby boys I've ever seen…

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His mother's name was Jewel, and she died when Jimmy was a small boy. His grandmother, Viola, helped raise him.

Here he is when he was about 10 years old or so…

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These are photos of people I can only guess at.. I can see resemblances between so many of them, and it was fun trying to guess at who belonged to whom…

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I thought they made a handsome couple…

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These were some of my favorites – especially that old school photo. All of the children were shoe-less and dusty, and the most interesting part was the mix of ages; there looked to be older teenagers mixed in with the youngsters. The slate that the boy in the middle is holding reads "Sycamore 4-9-30.. W.E. Faith.. J.N..Miss Fewell (Tewell?)."

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I thought the woman below had interesting features.. perhaps she's the mother or aunt of the woman in the photo with her husband – the "handsome couple" photograph above; after all, they have the same wide-set eyes and cheekbones…

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There were several other old photos, but there were also a lot of them from the 50's, as this one appears to be. Wouldn't you love to know what these ladies were laughing about? I imagine they were being very boisterous, and the fourth person in the room – no doubt laughing along with them – wanted to snap a photo to remember the hilarity of that afternoon – or to show them how silly they were being!

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I hope you enjoyed looking at these photos as much as I did. I plan on taking them all out of the box Jimmy had stored them in and putting them into an album, in the best order I can guess at.

Join us next time, as we explore the 1970's – and answer the burning question: was Mike, in fact, the first person ever to wear the now-popular Justin Bieber hair-do?

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P.S. After showing her this photo, I later overheard Sophie saying to one of her friends, "You should have seen my dad when he was our age: he was hot."


  • Marika

    Wow! So now we know where Bieber got his look!
    Okay, I am going to tell you my father’s trick, it’s pretty basic, make history up. The best thing is to know the truth, but if that’s not possible, make up a good story. For years I believed that my Dad lived next door to Elvis Presley and that was the reason she married him. I also believed, and this makes my Mother mad, that the first thing my mother said to my Dad was “Hey Joe, whatcha know — got gum?”
    Could there be someone in the family that might know? What a treasure to find.

  • Robin Hager

    What great photos! The one with the ladies laughing at the kitchen table was priceless. I would like to know what was going on that day, too! I think it’s so funny that everyone looked so serious and grumpy in all the old portraits from the turn of the century. My family photos are the same way, but my family wasn’t quite as attractive. We have one photo of my Irish great-grandmother sitting at the kitchen table with a bottle of whiskey sitting in the middle of the table. She had twelve children for three different men, and was never married. Wow…and they talk about the “younger generation”! Thanks for sharing these great pictures!

  • Marion

    I love, love love old photos! I did a similar thing when my parents passed mom was the last surviving member of her siblings, and because of her alzheimers, a lot of history was lost, as I did not care about that “stuff” growing up. I now love it…I had to go through their things, and some of my mom’s siblings photos (the ones that had no children of their own). I came across some treasures, and did find out who a few people were via cousins of mine, however, I have two tiny photos of children…one is a little girl, and no one knows who it is…because of where it was when I found it (an old photo album) I KNOW it is someone important to their family…I “almost” think it might be my mom. Anyway, I am going to frame it when I get a tiny frame and display it in my sewing room. I also did a Memory Frame of my grandparents…got a gorgeous shadow box from Michaels and framed a few things in it…you should do that as well…you’ve got many more old photos than I do…and they are gorgeous!
    BTW…as someone who grew up in the 70’s…..Mike would have been very “hot” back then….love the hair! LOL
    Take care

  • Sheryl

    I love old photos too. They are so fun to look at. I once asked my Mom why the women hardly ever smiled. and she said they didn’t have anything to smile about. Growing up in poor coal country of WV. If only they could have made the amount of money then that they make now. Good luck with all the boxes you have to go through.

  • Margaret

    I love what Sophie said about her dad’s pic — how cute! It’s wonderful to come across old photos like that. So cool! We came across some old photos too, but sadly they had gotten wet from the flooding in the basement. We tried to save what we could.

  • Anna

    You could try Sometimes people post photos looking for information. And since it’s a place for people to put information about family you find what you’re looking for.
    All the boys in my school had that haircut. It was the 70s! Sorry if I’ve disappointed you or Sophie.

  • D

    Wow! I love old pictures myself! As a big Civil War buff, the old man with the beard looks like General John Bell Hood ( Sam ) find a picture on the computer and look at the resemblence!
    I know…I’ve been a stalker for a couple of years! I love to hear about your daughters …and Mike. They are so beautiful..well maybe not Mike!(hahahaha!)

  • Katrina

    Love, love, love all the pictures!!!! And cute school photo of your DH ;-)!!! I was going to suggest looking on especially if you have some of the family names.

  • Sophie

    oh my gosh this is Justin B. !!!!!!
    I love those very very old pictures, the way people look so serious, the way they were dressed….

  • Amy

    Oh I love the old photo’s too. My mom & dad have a few, but not many. I’m pretty sure my mom has written on the back who everyone is. Hmmmmm, maybe I’d better double check with her on that before anymore time passes.
    Tell Sohpie she’s right… but what would it have been in the (late 70’s) instead of hot?? I don’t recall using “hot” – but hey, that was 30+ years ago! I don’t recall more than that from my “tween” time. 😉
    I’m really looking forward to the 70’s time warp pics though…. 😉

  • Karen CA

    These are some terrific older pics. I love them. Unfortunately my great aunt had a stroke before I could go through all the family pictures on my dad’s side to learn who everyone was, especially since she knew all the family history. My grandma (her sister) passed when I was a teen and i was not really interested in family history then to ask questions. Mike’s pic reminds me of the boys when I was in school and of the pics I have seen of my husband from about the same time.

  • Stef

    I would also start with and develop a family tree to see what comes up. There are also the message boards on Ancestry that you might be able to find other family members that you didn’t know about. I have found 2nd and 3rd cousins that I never knew and have learned so much about my family’s history that my parents or grandparents never passed on to me. It’s been a wonderful experience! Good luck with your search!

  • connie

    What wonderful pictures. They remind me of some I found when sorting through my parents things a few years ago. Sophie’s comment reminded me of our daughter’s seeing a picture of their Dad when in high school. One said, “Wow!! Dad had hair!!” We laughed for hours over that one.

  • Linda

    I think Mike looks like the woman in the couple picture. When I first looked at it I thought she looked familiar and then I thought, Mike! I have a huge box of really old pics too. My mother went through them and did label a lot of the pics from the late 19th century and early 20th century before she gave them to me. (She died almost 6 yrs ago at the age of 96.) My grandfather was a photographer and had a studio so he was forever taking pics. My Mom HATED having her pic taken! My great grandfather built a number of the first homes in the town where we still live and a number of the very old pics were taken on front steps, in yards, etc. of those homes. The only problem with the labeling my Mom did on the old pics is that she wrote right on the front of the picture! ! ! Oh well, I guesss at least we know who most of the people are. 🙁

  • Nicole

    Wow, what great pictures Paulette! My mom has one picture of a group of very grim ladies that she has been holding onto for years and she knows they’re relatives, but has no idea who they are! 🙂 I would agree with Sophie, but we don’t want to make Mike’s head any bigger, right?? 🙂

  • Siobhan

    Oh wow!! What a treasure trove. Isn’t it frustrating, though, to have known the answers were once there, but you didn’t think to ask? I am the same way. We used to joke that my father fell to earth fully formed as a father of four because he rarely talked about his childhood even though I know it was happy. Same with my FIL. It was only after he died and one of the grandkids showed us what he’d written in her “Ask Your Grandparents These Questions…” type of books that we discovered that he was named after the taxi driver who was driving his parents to the hospital but didn’t make it in time & so FIL was born on the side of the road. Both my DH & DS share the same name so it’s bizarre to think the info was so close but we never asked. We have albums full of old photos and it’s the same thing–don’t know who they are. I always think how sad that is, because photography wasn’t as common then as it is now and so obviously it was important for the pictures to be taken & people remembered.
    I can see Mike in your FIL’s baby picture–he is the spit of him, as they say over here! I’m also digging the Original Biebs, too. LOL Groovy, man.

  • Lynn

    Loved the photos! I returned home from my Mom’s this year with boxes full of old photos. I did take the time to go through many of them with her however she is unable to tell me who most of them are. She never took the time to go through them with her parents. Mom only has one sibling and he is no longer able to recall the names. Such a shame!
    Sophie’s comment is just priceless!

  • Barbara Sturtz

    We just had our family reunion and had great fun going though old photos of Mom and Dad but wish we had the foresight to ask them years ago to identify many other relatives and friends in the pictures. They are precious memories and I loved looking at the old pictures that you have of your husband’s family….how simple life seemed back then! Barbara

  • Debby

    I love old photos! I did get a box of old photos from my dad that I didn’t know he had. Thankfully, he did write on the back the names of those he knew – but there were still a lot he either didn’t get to or didn’t know either.
    It’s a shame these people will be “lost”, but having the photos mean to me that a legacy does live on even if we don’t know the names or stories. Thank you for sharing!

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