Wednesday, 16 January 2013

House-Clearing and Old Photographs.

My mother's house, after a year and a half on the market, now has a buyer, there's been a significant drop in price from the original valuation, but the sale's going through. Which means I've been immersed again in minutiae, sorting through all the stuff which escaped the earlier culls, the trips to the dump, the apportioning among siblings. 
With  the aid of my sister, I've been delving deep into boxes of papers, and I keep finding photographs. All too often, there's nothing written on the back, no clue. I recognise a few faces from other pictures in annotated albums, but some? Some are recognisably family faces, but I'm not sure just who. 

These two, above, who are they? I love the picture, it looks like a posed scene from a movie, mother and daughter, an old dog who'd rather be somewhere else, I think I know the house, I think I used to go there as a child, my sister thought so too, we both remember clambering on hay-bales in a dusty barn, but we think we were just toddlers? Sharlston?

"Dorothy, Sybil, Mary, Fanny.
I remember great aunt Fanny. An aunt by marriage.  Long gone.


I think I drive past these houses every night, but who? No idea.
Blanche, holding my father, in 1918.
Blanche worked on my grandfather's farm, was still living in the village in the sixties.
The boy with the cap is my dad, in 1931, the man is Dick Snowden (who? no idea)... outside my grandparents' farm, Old Hall.

 On the bottom left, 'Betty'. She and her parents and younger brother are visiting my grandparents (on the right). They're in the orchard at Old Hall.  Betty is my dad's girlfriend, but it's 1943, and he's gone off to the war, he's missing, in Singapore, they don't know if he's dead or alive. It will be a year or so before they learn that he's survived, and is a prisoner of the Imperial Japanese Army.

My cousin Barbara, aged twelve.

My dad, on return from the war,  shortly to be a civilian again.
 Betty sent him a 'Dear John' letter, to Changi (P.O.W. jail in Singapore)  but he didn't receive it until after his release, by which time she'd married someone else!

P.O.W. wages scrip.
As he said 'The  little bastards' promises aren't worth the paper they're printed on'.

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  1. Lovely photos. I came upon a similar cache when clearing out the belongings of my aunt last year.

    1. Sad to think they wind up, so many of them, as unknowns.
      I look at them and try to imagine their lives, what they were doing the day before, the day after.

      In years to come, nobody will have old pictures of us. Digital media? Who'll be able to read a .jpg file twenty years from now, who'll keep any readable form for posterity?

  2. Replies
    1. They are cool, i'm fascinated trying to extract info from the faces, match them to the names in the family bible.

  3. Oh I love these .... a pity their identities, for the most part, are unknown!


    1. I could always invent the stories though, completely spurious.....
      hmmmm. tempting......

  4. Fantastic collection. It's failing to find anyone whop knows that really frustrates! Good photos mind.

  5. You could put up a blog of all those pics and see what transpires.

    1. I have more. Mind-numbingly more. Some are interesting though....

  6. Old photos are a treat; I always head for the piles in the antique stores knowing not who they are but framing stories and histories about the backgrounds and clothing.
    I ended up with 40 pounds of photos from my mother's collection (all filtered down to her from both sides of the family), but only a few real "keepers".

    I have to be happy that your dad didn't get his "dear john" letter (Betty sucks). When I was in army, those letters were devastating since the guy had no recourse and was trapped in service -- although some went AWOL shortly after receiving the DJ.

    1. Some years later she sent him an apology....
      I really don't know much about it, only some things my mother said, after he died, about the changed world he came back to. Everything and everybody was different, and his head was full of the terrible things he'd seen and endured, and there was nobody around him who had any idea.
      He was feted and paraded around the village, but wanted none of it. He withdrew into himself at first, buried himself in work, bought a house with his back-pay, dug and planted from dawn til dusk.
      The next phase was partying, flirting, driving home drunk.
      Then, a calmer time, when he and an old army pal went away for two weeks in the Isle of Man. His pal spotted a likely girl to dance with, and my dad sat and chatted to her friend.
      My mother.

  7. What fabulous old photos, soubriquet...thank you for sharing them with us. I keep intending to go through the pile I have out in a carton in the back room. I really must do so one of these days. I'm the last of the Mohicans in my generation and previous generations in my family...and once I pack my bags and depart, there is no one else left who would have any idea what or who the photos are about and of. I'm going to put that on my to-do list!

    1. Do it! And write on the back in pencil, who, when, where, why, for posteriority!

      And then post them on your blog.


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