Thursday, January 10, 2008

Surprise Package

Monday afternoon, when I came home from my most recent dr's appointment, Mandy greeted me by telling me she had a big surprise for me and that it had arrived that day in the mail no less. She held up a box that she had already opened and told me I couldn't see the whole thing until she found something in the box to show me first.

She whips out a little packet that I recognized what type objects it held immediately. It was a little packet that contained old photographs all fastened together for viewing. I'm lousy at descriptions here but anyway, it looks kind of like a smallish notebook and the photos are all inside then -makes it nice to carry them around to show them to others. Or rather, I should say it MADE it nice because I think they stopped packaging photos like that probably in the late 50's, maybe the early 60's.

Well, this packet she pulled out, she leafed through it and showed me a really old, not so hot either, picture of me. I would judge it was probably taken when I was around 11-12 years old and is of me, leaning against my uncle's car out in front of the house -in a god-aweful bathing suit and don't 'cha know, I have this really terrible "come hither" look on my face to boot. Terrible photo, really terrible but Mandy was absolutely loving that one!

What the heck? Where did this come from anyway. And then she told me it had been sent to me -to us - by my cousin Tom and his wife, Linda. As I glanced through some of the old photos in this package, I knew immediately these were old photos that had been taken by our oldest aunt and her husband - Aunt Ethel and Uncle Butch - the couple I had lived with for over a year as a kid and who I generally spent a good deal of my summer vacations with them at their home in Jamestown, NY.

Linda had written me a note, explaining she and Tom had been doing some cleaning out at their house and hidden in the depths of one closet they had found this box of photos. She said they had gone through it and scanned the ones they wanted for their family and knowing how much I am into family tree stuff, old photos - anything that details our family's history in one way or another- that I would most likely appreciate this package.

And boy, she was soooo right!

Many of the photos in this box are duplicates of some I already have but some were ones were I recognize the occasion but don't have any photos of it. I went through the box and pulled out enough photos that it almost fills a large (gallon size) zip lock back and it's now laying on top of my printer/scanner, just ready and waiting for me to dig in and scan them into my computer now too.

Some old photos I had seen before but apparently were destroyed in the fire in this house back in 1991 - like a picture from 1910 of my grandfather standing outside the house where the family lived then in Edna, PA -down in Westmoreland County - and at the back of the house, you can barely see my Grandmother, peaking around the corner and she's holding a baby - my Mom. It's a great picture of my grandfather -not too hot of Grandma and my mother because of the angle but I know that's who it is and that's the important thing.

Some old photos of a trip my Mom, grandparents and Mom's older sister (Aunt Ethel) and her husband (Uncle Butch) and mom's brother, Uncle Ralph, his wife, Aunt Hazel and their daughter, Barbara, who was probably 3, maybe 4 years old at the time, had taken to West Virginia. It was a return trip to Tunnelton, WVA where the family had lived for several years in the late 19-teens and early 20's before they moved back here to the old homestead in Pennsylvania. I think it was probably the only time my grandparents were able to make the trip back to Tunnelton to see who they could find that they knew still living there then.

And seeing those pictures of them all together - so much younger for openers than when I knew them all -it brought to mind a little story I love. You all know by now (I hope anyway) that I am a firm believer in the little things that prove as big as this universe is, in many ways it is also still a very small world now and again.

Back in the mid-to-late 70's, my cousin Ray was working at the time I believe for Greyhound as a manager type and for a while, he was in charge of the bus terminal in Charleston, West Viriginia. When he came to the family reunion that year, he couldn't wait to talk to my Mom, tell her about something that happened to him when he transferred into that terminal and first met his new secretary there.

After being introduced, the lady, who was nearing retirement age at that time, asked Ray where he was from and he told her, the Pittsburgh area, Monroeville, to be specific. And she nodded, said ok and then told him she was interested because of his surname - "Eld" -and that she had known a family by that name who had lived near her as a child but they hadn't moved to the Pittsburgh area when they left her home town.

(The surname "Eld" isn't a very well-known name you see and we've often joked that if you meet someone in this country originally from Sweden with that last name, odds are pretty good that they are related to my Mom's family.)

Now Ray was aware of that fact so he started asking her where she was from originally and she told him Tunnelton, West Virginia. Then it was Ray's ears, his interest level, that picked up steam!

He told her that our grandparents and their children had lived in West Virginia for a number of years way back when and the discussion then turned to the girlfriend she said she'd had then - a Hazel Eld. That was my Mother!

Ray's secretary's name was Elizabeth Brown and when he told my Mom this story, that his secretary had sent her greetings, remembered her and all - after well over 50 years by that time since they had moved away from Tunnelton, I wish I'd had a digital camera then to capture the look on her face at that moment.

Isn't it just amazing though how you can meet someone and find out my goodness, we really aren't total strangers after all because we share a connection to this or that person or perhaps a place where we once lived -little things like that.

One thing for sure, it certainly made my Mom's day that Sunday to have her nephew tell her that her long ago friend still remembered her and had asked that Ray remember her to my Mom with a big Hello!

Yep - it is a small world - and a package of old photos brought back that memory to me along with many, many more.

Thanks Tom and Linda for thinking of me and sending this package as you were so right - I really do appreciate it -very, very much!

As Bob Hope's theme song went - "Thanks for the memories!"


Dianne said...

Photos are such treasures - and to get old photos that you weren't expecting. What a gift.

can't wait to see some - crank up that scanner :)

lattégirl said...

Family photos = priceless! We demand to see the one of you as a youngster.

Diane said...

I have an attachment to photos anyway but old family photos, well!! wouldn't it be nice if more people would send along photos in this way? Lovely.

Sand to Glass
Dogs Naturally

fermicat said...

What an excellent surprise! I have the old photos from my grandparents, and from a few great aunts and uncles who died without any offspring. They are such cool photos, and so different from modern ones.

Linda said...

What a great gift! Sorry I haven't been around much this week, it's been a bit hectic between not feeling well, work, and still having Jamie at home.

I'll try to get back to a semi-normal routine soon - promise!

SnoopMurph said...

That is a great story and I think photos are so much fun to look through-enjoy them.

It's really fun to find out how small our world can be. Amazing!

Dottie said...

Thanks for stopping by. I really enjoy family photos too and have lots of them. I got quite a bit when my mom passed away in 2006. I even have some old slides and this little slide viewer that my great-grandparents had. I've run across some that I'd like regular photos of. I think you should post one of yourself as a youngster... maybe I'll post a couple of me?