Sunday, February 21, 2010

Collecting stories

Terra's recent post about one of her favorite found photos both blew me away and also reminded me of a story I've been wanting to tell. Isn't lovely to be able to peek into their world for just a bit?

When I was home for Christmas, my mom and I were wandering this cramped antique mall in downtown San Angelo when I stumbled across a lovely bureau. Inside the top drawer were hundreds of old black and white photographs and vintage hankies. Now I've had a fascination with old, found photos since I first discovered the collage work of artist Lisa Congdon.

So I began pulling out the photos and sorting through all of the stories and treasures fit into that now tiny drawer. To be honest, I was sort of lost in my own world when I looked up and noticed my mom was tearing up. "It's so sad," she said. She couldn't believe that so many personal photos were just available for anyone to just buy. In her eyes, these were people's lives that were discarded by uncaring family after they had passed on. She sincerely looked at me and said "you and Charlie better not get rid of our photos like this after we die." I laughed and shook my head at her, pledging never to rid myself of family photos. I told her that that might have been the fate of the photos in that drawer. Imagine that I follow through on my threats to never have children. If I were to die before my brother, all of my worldy possessions would probably be sold off in an estate sale of some kind. I told her that you never know...all of those family photos might end up in a dusty old suitcase at a flea market some day.

That's what I love about those old photos though. When I pick them up and select ones to purchase, I feel like I'm holding so much history in my hands. These were people that were loved and lived and probably overcame great obstacles. Or maybe they danced at grand balls or went on summer picnics with their beaus like in the photo above. I feel like just by looking through the photos or selecting a few to take home I'm doing my part to keep them share in their history just a little bit (even if it's just one that I made up).

Btw, Elizabeth, you won :-) I'll email you for a reminder about your address.

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