Old Photos...A Reunion Story

Category: What on Earth!?

Everyone seems to be doing lists and recaps today...internet, TV, radio, print media. "What happened this year?" "Top 100 _insert your adjective and noun here__."

I'd like to close this year with something that made me pause with wonder and emotion last week. It is a story that began with a valentine. From 1888.

This is a valentine that we had found in the house. I pored over census lists and message boards to uncover clues about its mysterious owner. And then, something that made me hold my breath. A possible relative. An email address. A connection.

Out of respect for her privacy, I won't disclose any of her information. But after she answered a few (probably confusing) emails from me, I was 99% positive that this woman was related to Annie. I wanted to make sure that Annie's valentine was returned to someone who Annie also loved.

She gave me the town and address that Annie had moved to after she left Ash Grove. It turns out that I lived 10 minutes from Annie's old house for a number of years.

On a whim, I scanned and shared some other old photos I had found here as well. There was Annie.

Before I could scan more photos and determine which prints showed Annie's kin, I became sick and was struggling with my health and the house. The Annie Project rested on my desk for weeks.

Right before Christmas, I was determined to send Annie back. The house was torn apart, but I dug up an intact box. On December 19th I didn't have a lot of time to get the package to its destination. I sorted through the other photos, looking for Annie's face or other prints from the same photography studio. I was able to pack up a handful and ship them off.

On December 23rd, I received a touching note (here is an excerpt):

I opened the box and there, on top, was a picture of my grandfather! Then down a way, there was one of my Dad that I'd never seen.

I cried. Sending these photos back was as much of a gift for me as it was for her.

The pictures I have of my grandparents and other relatives are so important to me. I love to look at them and search for connections to the faces of my sisters, my niece, my nephew. Whose eyes? Whose hair? Who made the choices that placed me where I am today?

And then, on Christmas Day, Aaron's Aunt Marvel (who IS a marvel :) handed me a gift.

It was a photograph album. Aaron as a little boy. Aaron's family--his mother, his grandparents, his great grandparents. It was one of the most special things anyone could ever have given to me. I have a wonderful family, and I've gained a wonderful family. Few things could touch my heart more than the trust that they have placed in me with these precious photos.

I felt like Annie was paying me back for sending her home.

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What a beautiful story! How did Annie's cards/photos end up at your house? Was she an actual resident, or were her descendants the owners of her memorabilia? It is so interesting to hear these stories. I personally know so much about the builders/first owners of my house, but have not found one remnant of them here (there was only one other owner between us). I have dreams about finding their photos in my attic.
Happy New Year!

Many, many things were left behind by the previous owners and we've even found things from the owners before those!

I hope you find some of your own photos! Even if you don't, it might be worthwhile to track down the descendants of the owners you know about (through a genealogical website). Sometimes people are willing to part with photocopies of older photos and even these could become part of the story of your house.

Happy New Year!

Well, actually... the brother of the man who built my house lives only a block away. Unfortunately, he is, well, sort of a grumpy old man who wants nothing to do with us. His son works with my husband, but the grumpy old man is the only one with any photos or anything. The son was able to tell us that the original owners had a sort of diner booth in the kitchen, though. It was one of his only memories of the house, but I thought it was so cool!

well that story just me totally well up...what a fantastic way to kick off the new year!

Now that's the kind of story I like to hear.

We live in a very small town where everyone knows everyone. Seems everyone we meet has a memory about "Miss Syrene's house." Only two families have lived here besides us, but we've found no photographic (or Valentine) evidence of them yet. I found their graves at the old cemetery up the road, though. It was so wonderful to stand there surrounded by all the people that once lived in our house.

What a great story, talk about good karma. We are fortunate to have a woman live across the street from us who is about 80 and has lived in her house since the 40's and on the street her entire life. She has shared many stories with us because her dad and one of the previous owners were good friends who shared their retirement doing projects. One involved cementing in the front lawn and painting it green because no grass would grow under the big spruce trees. (We're back to grass now if you are wondering).

A similar gift arrived for my father-in-law. Someone was cleaning out an attic and found an old films of him and has family enjoying christmas dinner and playing at the lake. He knew my father-in-law but hadn't talked to him for over 30 years. He converted the reel to reel to video and sent it just in time for Christmas. It made a wonderful Christmas treat for the whole family.


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