My wife and I are in the process of cleaning the house. Granted, it’s a 20 years process, starting when we moved into the house back in November of 2000, but it’s an ongoing thing. Recently, I took it upon myself to work on clearing out the garage, going through the boxes that have been sitting there for the better part of those 20 years, intending to rearrange the space on the sides for better storage since it is just a one-car garage. There are multiple yard machines and other equipment that need to be stored there and the car. During the summer, the car sits outside, and the inside of the garage clutters up. Usually, come winter, everything is piled to the sides, and I squeeze the car in. This year I wanted to do it differently.
In going through the various boxes, I found one that was chock full of black and white photos. I didn’t recognize the ones on the top, so I figured the whole box was probably from my in-law’s house, so I brought it in and told my wife she needed to look through them, as she probably hadn’t seen them in better than the 20 years. The box sat in the house for a couple of weeks untouched. The day before yesterday, she brought me a smaller box with an even smaller photo album on top that said quite whimsically, “Grandma’s Brag Book.” I opened it up, and the first photo was of a baby with dark hair. Definitely not me! I had blonde hair up until age 7. It was a baby picture of my brother.
Several pictures in was a shot of me when I was 21 months old. I was a happy kid when this picture was taken! Sadly, none of the other pictures are of me; they’re of my brother. But even so, the box of pictures had a lot of memories in them, places my father had been during World War II when he served in the US Army in Okinawa.
I had never seen pictures of him in his Army uniform, though I was aware through his discharge papers (which I still have) that he made sergeant before he returned to civilian life in 1946. A good number of the pictures I don’t recognize anything in them and only some of them have captions on the back. Seeing as hundreds of WWII veterans are dying on any given day, it’s remote that any of the people in the pictures are still alive, or they don’t have copies of the pictures that I now have in my possession.
My other issue is what to do with the family pictures going forward? Seeing as my wife and I decided not to have children, I really don’t have anyone to pass them down to that they would mean anything. My father’s siblings didn’t have children, so there aren’t any cousins I could bequeath my pictures to. Sending them to a historical society was a thought. Again, none of my family was either famous or historically significant, so it would just be a pile of pictures of people that no one would recognize.
I wonder what others do with their family pictures when there’s no one left to inherit them?