The Magic of Finding an Old Photo and Hearing the Story Behind it. It Gives a New Appreciation for Everything.

April 16th, 2015, 10pm

They say pictures are worth a thousand words; when in reality they are worth so much more. Some pictures go down in history, the pictures of famous moments in history that almost anyone can identify. Then there are others, the ones that stay in old boxes in storage hardly ever looked at, until one day someone pulls that box out and looks at pictures whose story is only known to a few. Those stories, the rare and special ones, that hold so much meaning to a lucky few, are the stories that I think are the most important stories. The stories that are worth telling.

An old picture of my grandmother surfaced a few years ago, the photo was taken when she was about 14. The year was no more than 1944, the second world war was in full swing, everyone was scared shitless about what was going to happen next, but my grandmother was only concerned about getting a tan and making the most of her summer vacation.

When I first saw the picture the first thought that crossed my mind was “Wow, Grandma was so pretty” (This happened when I was young so it didn’t occur to me that I shouldn’t blurt that out loud) After a lot of laughing, my grandma explained to me who was in the photo. Seeing my great uncle in a pit helmet at the age of 12 will be a memory I will always remember, the story that went along with the photo will be stuck in my head for the rest of my life.

She told me about how the helmet my great uncle was wearing came out of an old box in their attic from one of their relatives that fought in the First World War. The story progressed into telling me what life was like in their small community at that time. As in all towns in the 1940’s the older boys and fathers were all away at war, so the children ran wild. She told me stories of how her and her friends ran wild that summer, trying to impress what few boys were around and telling me how the island where they were was extended family to her.

She stays in contact with most of them even to this day.

That cottage where the picture was taken stayed in our family until my parents generation when it had to be sold on account that no one was able to look after the old building. That cottage was the most important thing to my grandmother, my mother and all of my aunts. All of the generations of my family since that cottage was built had spent most of their summers there.

That photo and everything that was captured in it is not what I remember most about that photo, but knowing that someone came running out of the cottage to take the photo was the same cottage that I was standing in the first time I saw the photo, or that afterwards they were all going to have their dinner at the same table that I had my breakfast that morning.

Our personal history, those small connections that can mean almost nothing to most people. Can connect the past, the present, and the future into one small moment, captured for maybe no particular reason at the time but it happened to hold the key to me discovering the stories of my grandmothers teenage years.

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Mariah Hillis

History buff living with chronic health problems. Lives life to the fullest, and dreams the biggest dreams, despite not being able to breathe in her sleep.

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