Old Photographs


Linda Lee, July 1943.

Old photographs not only bring the past to life, but they serve to solidify our own mental image of the events. When there are no pictures, our minds form their own indelible snapshot in which to imagine the story. The more details the story gives us, the easier it is to develop that imaginary picture.

Such was the case recently as we began the chore of sorting through boxes filled with old photographs from my wife, Karen's side of the family. Counted among the assortment were those that had recently been taken in high definition color, but the more interesting ones for me were always the early black and white shots of her parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles. These were the ones that revealed the past, and which brought on the conversation of “who’s that in the photo”, or the remark, “so that’s what they looked like!” But the real finds were the photographs that finally put a visual image to a family story we had heard over the years.

One such black and white photo we discovered was that of a pet female dog owned by Karen's mother during the 1940s. The family dog also happened to be a cocker spaniel, making it all the more interesting and appealing with Chloe in our house. Cocker spaniels were at the height of their popularity in the United States during the 1940s and 50s, and I was eager to hear the family stories about this dog to understand if cockers were any different back then, then they are now. From what I eventually gathered, this dog was friendly, a bundle of energy, and she preferred the company of people above all else. It appeared the cocker spaniel breed hadn’t changed one bit through all these many decades!

It also seems even Karen had never set eyes on this grainy snapshot, or even known the dog’s true name. From the handwriting on the back, the photo was dated July 1943, with her name written as Linda Lee. Finally, an old photograph connected the many family stories I had heard, with a real picture!

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