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A family history project in photos

Serendipity

January 16, 2012
Billie Shelton , The Daily Freeman Journal

It's been two years now since I decided to take on a project for a hallway in our house. It kicked off the summer before as we sorted 63 years of family pictures. I set aside scores of my favorites but found I wanted to do something more with them than put them all back in a box on a shelf. (After all, that's where they had been for years already.)

It took some time to select which pictures I liked best, and when that was finally done I sized everything, had the color pictures made into black and whites, and collected frames of several sizes to hold them all. Maybe the trickiest part of all was next, when I had to fit all these pictures together to hang on the wall in an eight-foot section of hallway.

But it worked finally, and now every day, several times a day, I walk past - among others - a great picture of my grandparents on their wedding day in 1922, my mother in a fancy dress at age four and again in her high school graduation picture, my family in our wedding in 1981. There's my parents in their Navy uniforms, and my kindergarten school picture that shows where I cut a notch in my bangs to get ready for it.

Article Photos

Along with these formal portraits, I enlarged numerous snapshots of non-events such as me and my siblings with my dad all dressed up in our new Easter clothes, sitting on the step with my grandpa, posing with my grandma in her front yard after just a normal everyday visit. There's my sister and me on our first day of school one fall before my brother was old enough to go, too, but you can see him looking out of the window behind us.

I framed one snapshot of me and my mom holding hands on my very first day in kindergarten because there aren't many shots of me, the middle child, by myself, nor of my mom, either. And I especially like the picture of my dad and my grandpa, with a carrier of glass milk bottles, standing in front of the Chevy pickup on their way to deliver the bottled milk from my dad's Holsteins.

Sometimes I think it's silly to have these 30-some frames up on the wall. They do get dusty, and they hang crooked sometimes. But I like seeing my grandparents again when I walk past, my parents are young there, and it's fun to be reminded of the days when I wore pigtails, my sister had long braids, and my brother had a butch.

I've learned two things from this project. One is that it really is okay to have your pictures in (acid-free) books instead of piled into boxes. And the other is that I need to be taking more pictures of everyday people and activities. Even though it's so easy now with digital photography, I've let myself get away from that somehow.

I plan to work on that in 2012.

 
 

 

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