Sunday, August 21, 2016

More memories...

More memories ... from my mom's collection of photos...

This is Demmy, the young man paired with my dad as a Big Brother; I've mentioned him in a previous post.  The photo is undated, and on the back my mom wrote “Demmy”.  Judging from his age, this must be from the late '70s or early '80s.  The photo is taken looking roughly westward, with the driveway toward my grandparent's house stretching away under the trees.  Our larger shed, if it was still standing at this time, would have been just out of view on the left, on the other side of that broad driveway.  Our house was also to the left, about a quarter mile down a dirt road.  You can see some nursery display beds just on the other side of the driveway; there would have been more on both sides and behind the photographer.

This is an interesting photo for a couple of reasons.  There's a note on the back that reads:
The colour on the rock was a disappointment.  The hike was a gem.  Glacier Park, 1969
The hand printing is unfamiliar, and it's a bit jarring to see the British spelling – we had no British relatives that I know of.  The closest thing we had to British friends were a Scottish family, the Denholms – but I don't recall them being interested in camping and hiking.  Maybe one of my siblings can help me on this one?  The comment about the color likely refers to the original photograph, on which the color balance was thoroughly screwed up by the development lab.  I've made an attempt to correct it in the scanning process; it's not perfect but it's way better than the print I scanned it from.

Here's an undated studio portrait of my brother Mark.  Guessing from his apparent age, I'd say 1971 or 1972.  The print I scanned from has an intense purple cast, another color balance screw-up.  I remember that being quite a common problem when getting photos developed – sure is a lot nicer with digital cameras and PhotoShop! :)

Finally here's a studio portrait of my brother Scott, also undated.  I'm going to guess 1958 or 1959, from his apparent age.

More memories ...

More memories ... from my mom's photo collection...

This photo is dated (by the lab) December 1979, and my mom wrote “Ray” on the back.  I met this young man very briefly, once, when I was home on leave from the U.S. Navy.  He was a friend of my dad's who helped out on the nursery a great deal for a number of years.  About eight years ago I spoke at some length by phone with Ray's dad, who is a police officer in New Jersey.  Ray was troubled by some of his interactions with my dad, and his dad was searching for understanding.  I have a great deal of sympathy for both Ray and his dad; I've long hoped our conversation was some help, even if in some small way.

Christmas 1957 at our house!  The lab dated this January 1958, but it could only have been taken on Christmas Day with that mess!  Top-to-bottom there's me, my brother Scott, and my sister Holly.  My memories of Christmas time at home are apparently all out of whack – I'm very surprised by all the toys visible here, not a single one of which I have any memory of!  We're all still in our pajamas, so this is probably early on Christmas morning – probably right after we opened all our gifts.  I don't know why I'm wearing a cap – perhaps that was a gift, too.

Here's me, feet stuck into my dad's boots, with my brother Scott in the background holding a sock which must be my dad's, too – it's way too big for him! :)  My mom wrote on the back: “He does fill those shoes.”  I'm sure she meant that in a cutesy way, but the first thought that came to my mind as I read that was “You’re wrong, mom.  I don’t even come close to filling those boots – not then, not today.”  The two of us are standing just below the rarely-used front porch of our house.  I can tell from the landscaping that it's at most a few years since the house was built, and the lab's date confirms that: August 1956, just before my fourth birthday.

Here are three more photos of me.  The first one has a note from my mom on the back:
Little Tommy at 4½ months.  He's 13½ months now, weighs 24 lbs.
I am, unfortunately, considerably heavier than that now. :)  The second photo is dated (by the lab) as June 1954, when I was a few months shy of two years old.  My mom wrote “Tommy” on the back.  It looks like I'm sliding down a grass-covered hillside with mature trees at the top – I can't think of any place like that on our farm, so we must have been visiting somewhere else.  The last photo my mom wrote “Tommy 4½ months”, which puts the photo date in January 1953.  I have no recollection of that giant stuffed bear.  At that point we were living in the rented apartment in my Uncle Donald's house, and I don't remember the furniture there so I can't tell if that was taken in our apartment.

More memories...

More memories ... from my mom's photo collection...

The photo at right has notes on the back in unfamiliar hand printing.  It's most definitely not my mom or dad; I know their printing very well.  It's written with a fountain pen, something that I've never seen my parents use.  The notes say: “June, 1953  Stan and Grove at quitting time on the Dilatush’s home.”  Presumably Stan and Grove are the masons who built the foundation.  We're looking at the north wall of the foundation, with the kitchen bay poking out.  One thing of interest to me: the west wall right under the guy sitting on the top is solid.  I remember that wall having a rough doorway; really, just a hole.  It led into the foundation for the “old bathroom” which appears to be missing in this photo.  I'm guessing that the bathroom was added on at some point during the construction, and wasn't part of the original house plans.  It looked like an add-on, too – a wart on the otherwise straight west side of the house.

This photo is undated and has no notes on it.  The boy leaning out of the window has to be my brother Scott, and the baby alongside is likely my sister Holly.  That dates this photo to roughly 1956, when Scott would have been between two and three years old.  I think that's the east-facing window of our dining room, and the photo taken in the morning with the sun to the southeast.  I can make out a picture hanging on the wall opposite, but the light colored rectangle behind Scott is a mystery to me.  The woman whose face is mostly hidden doesn't look like my mom, but I don't know who else it could be.

This photo is dated (by the lab) June 1955, and it looks like we're on a boat.  I posted one yesterday that was also June 1955 on a boat, but all three of us were in different outfits in that photo.  I'm guessing we had another day on the boat.  That's me on the left, holding a bucket (bait?), and my dad holding my brother Scott.  Dad must have been cold – he's wearing a long-sleeved shirt, probably cotton twill though possibly even flannel.

 Here's another photo of our Magnolia grandifloras, and a better view of the flagpole, dated (by the lab) March 1959.  Certainly it was taken in the winter; the trees in the woods have dropped all their leaves.  In my mom's handwriting, a note on the back says “tree to the right of the flagpole is our big magnolia”.  The south end of our house is just visible on the right; this photo was taken facing south-southwest, apparently (from the shadows) quite early in the morning.

That's Jessie Johnston at right, in a photo dated by the lab as August 1972.  In my mom's handwriting on the back there's a longer-than-usual note:
Jessie Johnston – Papa Johnston's daughter, Sally Smith's sister.  One wonderful lady died too young – has a dental clinic named for her in Bath, Maine.
I don't remember either Jessie or Sally, but I certainly remember Papa Johnston – a “character” of epic proportions, and the main figure in dozens of hysterically funny stories.  It looks like that dental clinic is still around, and that Jessie's married name was Jessie Albert.

Finally, three photos of me.  All three are undated studio portraits.  On the first one in my mother's handwriting it says:
My beautiful oldest son – I love this photo.  He looked so much like the Ivory Baby.
I think my mom may have been just a little bit biased. :)  There's nothing on the other two.  So far I've seen about 10 studio portraits of me, and I don't remember ever sitting for even one!

More memories...

More memories ... from my mom's photo collection...

This fellow is Jimmy Cole, from another family we made friends with while camping.  Jimmy and his parents lived in Oakland, Maine – and I believe we met them while camping in Maine somewhere (maybe the Katahdin area?).  We visited their home a few times, and I remember going on Jimmy's paper route with him – quite a novelty for this farm kid! :)  This photo is undated, and it was taken in our home's living room.  I don't remember them visiting us, but obviously they did!  It's a mystery to me why Jimmy has a paper headdress on, and is holding a stuffed animal with another one.  I remember thinking that his parents were old – I'm not sure whether that's actually true.  I know my parents heard from Jimmy once in a while, and that he'd gotten in trouble with the law a few times.  Don't know anything else.

This photo is dated by the lab as February 1961, when I'd have been 8 years old.  That's me in the foreground, and I think that's my cousin Jonathan in the background.  I've no idea where the photo was taken – nothing in it looks familiar at all.  There are no notes on the photo.  Maybe my siblings will recognize it.

I didn't have any idea who these people were until I saw my mom's note on the back: “Picnic Jimmy Gurlick on right man who built our house kitchen and bathroom cabinets”.  The lab dated the photo as June 1955.  I believe that's me sitting next to the dark-haired girl (whom I don't recognize), and Scott in the high chair (which I remember).  It looks like we're in our yard, on the northwest corner of our house.  I don't remember that picnic table at all, but it looks like the sort of thing my dad might have built, farmer-style.  Jimmy did a beautiful job on our house and cabinets.

This photo is undated and unlabeled.  My brother Scott (at right) and I (in the inner tube) are swimming in a place I don't recognize at all.  It looks like a sand beach with scrub pines in the background, so I'm going to take a wild guess and say it's Oswego Lake in the New Jersey pine barrens.  I'll guess (from our ages) that the date is summer of 1955 or 1956.

And finally a small collection of Overs.  The first photo is dated (by the lab) as August 1952, the month before I was born.  In my mom's handwriting, the people are identified as Dannie and Joyce Over, cousins of mine, the children of my mom's sister Betty and her husband bill.  The second photo isn't dated, but in my mom's handwriting: “Mike Over Betty’s son”.  I don't have any specific memories of any of these Overs...

More memories...

More memories ... from my mom's photo collection...

This one has on the back “Christmas morning” in my mom's handwriting, but no date on it anywhere. We're in the living room, my brother Scott is on the left, I'm on the right, and my dad is in the background standing in the door to our bedroom hallway.  Judging by our age, I'd guess this is 1956.  I love the way Cynda is following us. :)  The picture window is out of picture to the right, where we're heading – and that's where our Christmas tree would have been up.  That stuffed armchair I remember very well.  One memory welling up: my dad sitting in that armchair, with me on his shoulders, brushing his hair while he moaned with pleasure.  I don't remember the rugs at all – but now I've seen them in several photos, so they couldn't be some temporary thing.

 This is the “front” of our home on the Robbinsville farm, the one my parents built.  The photo is undated, but on the back in my mom's handwriting is “1st and only year this blasted thing ever bloomed”.  I don't remember that tree, so I don't know what it was.  Judging from the landscaping and the sidewalk, I'm guessing this photo was taken in 1956 or 1957.  We're looking at the northeast corner of our house, and the dining room was right in that corner.  The front door, visible to the left of the photo, opened directly into our living room.  The bay just visible on the right of the photo is the north end of our kitchen.  I'd completely forgotten that the front porch had a roof over it.  We rarely used that entrance, so I guess its details never soaked into my brain. :)  The dormer visible above the porch roof I do remember – but from the inside.  We had a large attic that my parents used for storage, and that dormer held the boxes of stuff that were most interesting to me: my dad's papers and photos from the war and before.  For some reason I was often the person detailed to go up into the attic to find something, and I had the chance, a few times, to look through those boxes.  The entrance to the attic was a “hatch” over the end of our bedroom hallway.  I remember hundreds of photos of scenery, most likely from North Africa and Italy, where he was stationed in the war.  There were a couple of locked boxes that I never got into, darn it.  I remember some foreign money, some sea shells, and bags of seeds.  All of that stuff is long gone, unfortunately; I'd sure like to have it today.

This is my dad and I, in June 1954 (lab date) when I was almost two years old.  On the back, in my mom's handwriting: “Tommy and Tom”.  That curved sidewalk has been in some other photos; I think it was at the southeast corner of my grandparent's home on the farm, but I'm not at all certain of that.  I'd give a lot to hold my dad's hands again...

Here's one of several photos I'd never seen before: our house on the Robbinsville farm while it was being built.  On the back, in my mom's handwriting: “building our house 1953”.  From the foliage in the woods behind, that's in the summertime.  We're looking at the northeast corner of the house, and the worker is in the northwest corner of what would be our dining room.  The big steel tank in the foreground must have been the oil tank (for our heater), which was buried on the north side of the house.  It's interesting to see the old-fashioned construction techniques on display here; anyone familiar with modern home construction will immediately pick out all sorts of differences.  One thing that jumps out at me, because I'd forgotten it: the tall opening (with a lower top) in the basement wall, the second opening from the left in the photo.  That was a doorway that opened into a small storage area underneath our front porch.  It was like a closet in the basement.  There was a second such basement “closet” on the northwest corner of the basement, under what we called the “old bathroom”.

Here's one I'd love to know the story behind.  It's dated (by the lab) June 1955, and on the back in my mom's handwriting it says “Cape Cod fishing boat”.  That's my dad on the left, holding my hand; I'm holding my brother Scott's hand.  Scott is holding a little girl's hand, but it can't be my sister Holly because she'd have been an infant at that point.  I have no idea who that little girl was.  Likewise, I don't recognize any of the people in the background, or the boat itself.  And I have no memory of ever being on a Cape Cod fishing boat.  On the other hand, my dad knew quite a few fishermen – a result of his love of home-cooked seafood.  He found gems of seafood eateries all up and down the east coast.  It wouldn't surprise me at all to discover that he had a fisherman friend on Cape Cod.

Finally here are a couple of kid photos: my sister Holly on the left, and my brother Scott on the right.  These are studio shots, and undated.  I'd guess 1961 or 1962 for Holly's, and a couple years earlier for Scott's.