Faces from the past and present

Have you ever sat down and looked through your photo albums or boxes of photos and not known whose face you were looking upon?

Just the other day I was looking at images from my kindergarten.

You would think I would be able to name every one of those kids; I mean it was just yesterday that we were sliding down the stair banisters at the Presbyterian Church, fighting in the church playground and arguing over who got to sit with Julie Badger, my kindergarten sweetheart.

Other than Julie, the rest of those kids’ names have just faded away. As I looked at photos of birthday party after birthday party, I saw so many classmates I could not even begin to remember.

You would think I could easily remember when, while blindfolded, I accidentally pinned the tale on the wrong donkey.

I never liked Jamie Winston much anyway. He was only invited because of diplomacy. If I left him out, then I wouldn’t get invited to his house. There would have been a crushing domino effect which could have set my second-grade social life on its ear.

I often sit and peruse photo albums that feature faces of people who I do not know. The photo had or has some significance to my late mother and father, or grandparents or another relative, so it found its way into the family collection.

In my room hangs the portrait of a great, great, great grandfather that meant much to my grandmother.

I will say it was not a favorite of my mother’s, as she sees this stern man whose eyes almost follow you as you enter the room. It reminds her of the haunted house paintings that scared Don Knotts and Jim Nabors to death on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

It took me years of coaxing to finally get grandma to part with it and let me be its caretaker. The same is true of so many other images I have gathered through the years.

I recently forwarded a photo from the collection of my grandmother Allie Bunch Franks to a distant cousin via e-mail.

I was hoping it may be one of her ancestors. All the information I had was that it was my grandmother’s cousin Dave Bunch, who had an affinity for building different creations inside bottles. Three were featured in the postcard. Grandma even had one that sat upon the mantle.

I always remember marveling at how he could have gotten his creation inside that bottle when I peered in it as a child. I thought he must have had very small fingers to reach up in there and do that.

Beside him in the photo were two girls, one younger than the other, and unfortunately paint had covered the older girl’s face years ago.

From my cousin’s review, she made the educated guess that due to clothing styles, it was likely her great uncle rather than her great grandfather who shares the same name.

I have recently been going through many of our family photos and posted numerous unnamed ones to Facebook as well as hundreds from my father’s time in Germany sharing them in hopes someone will recognize and appreciate them, thankfully several were. It is amazing how we can easily forget the names of those kids who were at our birthday parties or the cousin we seldom see. It is so important to take the time to mark your photos in pencil not pen as to the details of who, what, when, and where.

Through the 60s and 70s, many film developers were kind enough to put the date of development on the photo, which helps. I think many of those new developing machines may include that info in the code it leaves on the back of the image.

As I look at the fading images, it is amazing to me how older images from the 30s, 40s and 50s endure literally unchanged while those of the 60s, 70s, 80s and even 90s are already fading into obscurity.

It is hard to imagine birthdays and Christmases simply gone because of poor film or film development, but that is much like our memories, they will likely fade with time as well.

I encourage those of you who have moved into the computer era, to scan your photos from every era into a computer database. Generally, you can include information about the photo right in the file in many programs. Make several CDs of the completed photo files and disperse them to your children, grandchildren. Put a copy in your safety deposit box.

Many even take the time to create little photo documentaries of the family history and their lives. Sit down and share these with your young grandchildren at the computer.

The main reason to disperse the copies is to make sure that many people have them in their collections in case of a natural disaster or fire. Then you might have a better chance of rebuilding your family photos.

When you consider all the time and money we spend on photos, you would think we would take the time to document the events that surround them. Now that we all create hundreds of digital images as part of daily life on the devices we carry, we still are letting them go unidentified unless posted in social media. I do wonder what will survive from our era for archaeologists to catalog a thousand years from now. Families have largely given up great paintings of their leading members that once lined great halls. Photos whether printed or digital will likely not survive as we know them.

Whenever I go into Cracker Barrel, I look up at the large portraits hanging on the walls and wonder if only someone had taken the time to write down a little about that person and put it with the portrait if they would now be staring out at thousands of Cracker Barrel customers or on the wall of a relative who knew they had an important life.

Like a newspaper documents the story of a community through its coverage, a well-kept photo collection documents the story of your family’s life. Will your teenage children or grandchildren care you took the time to do this? Probably not until they have children of their own, but who knows, the effort may prove beneficial to each of us as we look back later and get the benefit of knowing who is staring back at us.

I am still wondering who that blonde kid with the flattop, big ears, with my birthday cake on his nose is, oh wait, that’s me.

The honeysuckle pull

The sweet smell of honeysuckle lightly drifted over the back porch steps as I sit at the top of a thirty-step descent to the ground below. At three-years-old this was a surmountable achievement to navigate these without tumbling to the bottom. And in reality my mother was always watchfully standing by looking through the porch door as she ironed to make sure I did not rush beyond my abilities and go scampering down the steps.

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Get the shovel

I went to the garage and I grabbed the shovel, re-entered the living room and began moving through the room picking up a shovel full and dropping into a heavy duty garbage bag.
I am exaggerating the extent of my efforts to clean the house, but at times, I feel like that is the only way to find my way through.
It amazes me more everyday how much stuff I seem to accumulate despite every attempt not to bring anything else home I do not need.
Papers endlessly flow in through the mail, and from various meetings, and they seem to create endless piles.
Looking over my computer screen I see my treadmill. It makes such a wonderful addition to the living room holding up a pile of shirts waiting their turn on the nearby ironing board. I ironed half a day yesterday and there are still 25 or so piled there.
In preparation for a recent family visit, I managed to get everything spic and span at least in the areas accessible. I have so much more to do to get things in order.
I don’t know about you but when things are in disarray, it makes me feel like I am standing underneath a huge pile of stuff sitting on top of a rickety ladder just waiting for it to drop on top of my head.
It can become overwhelming at times, but such is the nature of life. We all have things that tend to pile up around us as we take each step forward.
We can let those things become a burden and bog us down in the tedium of everyday or we can systematically take them in stride making sure things remain caught up and life doesn’t become mired in mundane tasks.
Each day should be a balance after sustaining our existence with work, some time for family and friends; some time to those everyday tasks; and finally some to activities that allow our spirit to soar blessed by the creativity of the Lord’s gifts for our soul.
Many people soar by sharing their energies and talents with others through great organizations that help change the community around them. Some serve their fellow men through service in government while others create things that uplift the soul through various art forms.
Yet no matter what we choose to do to balance our lives, we must strive to never forget that what we do comes from the strength within us. The choices we make must also help fuel that strength and feed our souls. An empty vessel cannot fill another.
I pray that you are taking the time to balance your life, feeding your soul in God’s words and using His gifts to uplift those around you.

Are we too clean?

How many times a day do I reach over and hit the squirt top of an antibacterial and rub down my hands?

As I think on this practice, I wonder sometimes how I ever survived my childhood? How did any of us?

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Overcoming Rejection

I took the antique cedar box and polished it until it had a shine like a brand new nickel. In the inside of the upper lid, I pasted a photo of me playing the fiddle on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium. It is amazing what we might think will serve to convey the feelings within our hearts. I was still in my teens and this was meant to win the heart of a young lady that I thought had hung the moon. At least she did a pretty close job of it for me at that time. But once again I found myself on the end of a spear called rejection.

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