Thursday, 13 January 2011

Reports from a Pack Rat

When we were down south visiting my in-laws over the holiday, I found my brother-in-law in custody of a tin box full of old and battered photographs, a range that had belonged to my sister-in-law and one or more of her aunts. I sorted some of these out, that portrayed family that I recognized, and am now in the process of trying to do some restoration on them. Some are of my SIL, some of my MIL's family, taken during WWII and shortly thereafter, some of my husband as a boy. Nice memories, since I find myself as a preserver of family history for Little Stuff, someday.


Above is a photo of JG's father taken in 1933: he would have been in his late teens or very early twenties. (Must find out for sure - can't remember his birth year off the top of my head.) The second 'cleaned' version has had the tonal balance changed and some of the creases and blots removed from the face and figure. I still have a lot to do on this one. Unfortunately the tonal values in the face and in the stains on the background are so close that playing with the colour of the stains makes the face lose definition. There are other avenues left to explore, though.

I have a lot of family data. My father's cousin is and has been an indefatigable delver into their family history. My family name is Holden, and Bob has traced the Windsor scions of that name right back to Elizabethan England, found a coat of arms, and put together a fat loose-leaf book of information. He and some of the other cousins of that generation also found the money and will to have the original Holden log house restored and moved to an historical park in Essex County.

My mother' family is one I have done a lot of work on: I did a seminar course in social anthropology a long time ago and was given the assignment of studying my family. I ended up with a huge genological table, a short write up on most of my immediate ancestors, and a lot of other neat stuff, most of it winkled out of my grandmother by my mother. I have a tape of my grandmother talking about raising her babies with sound effects from my baby interspersed. Lovely.

And, for the last seven years, I have been building this blog as a record of her grandparents for Little Stuff. As well, on the computer and now backed up to separate storage are large files of family photos, and other records. I recently read a post in which the writer described how she is archiving her child's art work on line and so I am doing some of that as well. (Because I can't store it all!) I have my two girls' work plus Little Stuffs. I have Commencement programs and University graduation programs and newspaper clippings. And once they are scanned and safely stored, I can Throw. It. Out.! Or, at least, some of it.

My grandfather Holden was a keeper, of clippings and pages from newspapers among other things. The YD has two posters made from the front page of the newspaper on the day Edward VIII abdicated and the day WWII ended. She also has my father's service medals and a fine photograph of him in uniform, all of which we intend to mount into a shadow frame.

I have a braid of my own and one from each of my daughters, mounted in a frame by my mother. I have at least one bronzed baby shoe and there used to be more. I found a nasty little envelope among my mother's things with all of my baby teeth in it. Pack rat and collecter of Stuff that I am, I hope someone knocks me on the head before I get that bad.

Must get back to playing with the old photos. More later. I love this stuff. And I am counting it for 365, okay?


  1. What a great photo! Why is he dressed in that 3 piece suit? I wish I could show you the picture of my grandfather as a teenager, holding a fawn in his arms. I never knew him; he died in the late 50's at age 49.

    I recently threw away a baggie of my daughter's teeth, partially because I didn't want the kids to find them, and partially because I thought what am I going to DO with these?

    My father's younger brother has done a lot of research on that side of the family, but my mother's family history will probably by lost, with the exception of medical records which she has gathered because of her hypochondria.

  2. Th hilites are blown out a bit, but the subject looks about right.

  3. De, I have heard a story that one doting mother made a necklace of her children's teeth.
    AC, I had a lot of cleanup on the face and so I brightened it more than I should have. After I get the next lot of cleaning done, I'll play with the contrast and see what happens. I've got several more that are a lot worse.
    I also may rescan in colour rather than grey scale and see if that gives me more leeway.

  4. I'll pay attention to your posts about fixing your old photo's. I've got two boxes of my dad's photo's I've got to scan and share with my siblings.

  5. okay! ;)

    scanning things is a great idea. it is nice to keep somethings... to have the texture and the feel and the smell. but scanning so many others... smart, smart, smart.