Friday, October 18, 2013
Have You Ever Wondered What Your Great Grandmother Looked Like?
When I was a young child, my maternal grandmother told countless stories about her life and growing up at 87 Thompson Street in New York City. Grandma “Porch” and her brother were raised by their maternal grandmother, since their own mother passed away when they were very young children. Throughout the ‘20s and ‘30s Grandma was a professional singer at the Rustic Cabin in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey (where Harry James discovered singing waiter Frank Sinatra). The singing troupe had many pictures taken during those decades. (WNEW Radio broadcast from there.) Well, in the 1950s, my dear grandmother lost all of her treasured pictures in a basement flood. Except for one single picture of my mother and her two sisters as children, one picture of my grandmother at 23 years old, and one picture of my grandfather at about the same age, nothing was left but stories, lots of stories. My grandmother mourned the loss of those pictures her whole life. I will always treasure her stories. (She passed away shortly after her 94th birthday in 2001. -- My grandfather had passed away many years before, in 1957.)
To the contrary, when my paternal grandmother passed away (at 97 years old in 2009), we discovered a trunk in her basement stuffed with hundreds of pictures. Our family was thrilled to find this treasure. Decades of pictures of babies dating from the early 1900s through the 1950s, pictures of cruises taken with dear friends, pictures of homes, weddings. BUT…who were these people? Where were these places? Not a single picture was marked with an identifier. My paternal grandfather passed away very young. This trunk likely contained pictures of him as an infant or young child…but we would never know. I wish Grandma “Florida” was still here to tell us stories about all the people in those photographs (and because I miss her).
This is why I’m so passionate about helping families preserve their precious history, their heritage. I will never forget my maternal grandma’s stories. She held those stories so dear, and it’s my special tribute to her.
(Grandma “Porch” had a porch off her second-floor apartment in Brooklyn – so…she’s Grandma Porch. Grandma “Florida” had a perpetual tan, as she would have had she lived in Florida – so…she’s Grandma Florida.)