[rollei_list] Family Pictures

  • From: Marc James Small <marcsmall@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: rollei_list@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 14 Jan 2009 03:26:31 -0500

At 02:34 AM 1/14/2009, Frank Dernie wrote:
>This is something we were discussing in the family over the holidays.
>The fact is that I am not interested in the pictures my parents and
>grandparents took other than those showing family members and context,
>to see a great grandparent or the farm where they lived for example.
>I am quite sure from my children's interest that the only pictures of
>mine that they will keep would be those of themselves, friends and
>family and maybe the odd one which reminds them of a favourite holiday
>or place.
>The pictures I take for my pleasure do not interest them for long! One
>of my daughters, who is an artist, likes some of them, and she has a
>few on her wall, but apart from that it is people pictures only!

My parents were both pack-rats and avid geneaologists, so I ended up with a vast archive of materials including such things as my father's high school year book and the Scottish school-book of my fourth-great-grandfather, William Small. (Only the good die young, so we live extended lives. My grandfather bought the book at his grandfather's sale in 1898, with the idea of passing it on to a grandson of his. I ended up the only grandson with the Small name, so I got the book in the end. Understand that my grandfather was 18 when his grandfather, William Small, died. I last saw my grandfather in 1970 when he was 90; he lived to turn 95 and died in 1976.) I have piles of records, piles of family photographs, piles of publications. Then I have my own accumulation of pictures I have taken since 1961. Hell, I have twenty rolls or more I've not yet had processed.

I have very little interest in the family lore though I know a lot of it and it does come in handy on occasion -- Ward Bond played another of my fourth-great-grandfathers in the 1947 Cecil B DeMille potboiler, UNCONQUERED, and that generally gets a reaction when I mention it. (A family rite of passage is having to sit through it.) And I am the Provost Marshal of the Virginia Defense Force, an unpaid and unarmed auxiliary to the Virginia National Guard. (It is great for me: anyone from age 16 to 75 can serve and there are no physical standards beyond the ability to stand upright through First Formation.) When someone gets shirty with me, I can just smile and point out that an ancestor was the Adjutant of the Virginia Regiment, our fore-runner, during the Seven Years' War. (If they get really crappy, I can also point out that another set of ancestors served in Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiments in the Army of the James, fighting their way into Richmond from City Point in Hopewell, along what is now the Jeff Davis Highway which runs about a mile from my palatial abode. One great-great-grandfather was discharged in 1864 due to physical infirmities resulting from pneumonia, but bear in mind that he was then 62 and had served for three years as a rifleman. He lived another twenty years.

In any event, my son, Ian, and my father were very close. Ian is fixated on family history and wants everything. As he lives in Wasilla, Alaska, we are sending him Media Mail (book rate) Care Packages every three or four months. He assures me that if I lose or damage ANYTHING, he will not only not attend my funeral, but will desecrate my grave and get Sarah Palin to send imprecations into the after-life. (I have him foxed on this: I intend on being cremated and having my ashes strewn at a campground in a National Forest.) Ian is slowly getting everything other than the core of the collection, my Dad's military records and a bit of wood from USF CONSTITUTION and William Small's textbook.

On my mother's side, I have a cousin who would like the stuff dealing with her side of the family but he is perfectly content to let it go to Ian as they get along well. No one on my father's side has the slightest interest other than the Kinzeys, and I'm pretty far from them -- my father's mother was a Kinzey, and Granddad and Dad edited the second and third editions of the family book, but that is about it. (After all, Grandmother died young, at 78 or so. Bad genes, I guess.) EUB's, the lot of them! I do receive an annual invite to the Kinzey family picnic in July, but otherwise, the only time I hear from Dad's side of the family is when they ask for a copy of my SAR application, which I have scanned for such occasions. We are not really a close family!

I had a great-aunt on my Mother's side with whom I was especially close, Aunt Slick. When she died, her two sons took her accumulation of family records and burned it in her driveway. The rest of Mom's side of the house generally avoids them today a result. It just never occurred to them that someone would want this stuff.

In the end, many metropolitan libraries have archive rooms for family records. The Virginia Room at the Roanoke, Virginia, main library is one such example. Send your stuff there if no one wants it. I will spend my dotage writing out descriptions of events on the back of photographs, I fear, though most of the negative rolls or sheets are well marked. Masking tape and a Cross ball-point pen for longevity.

My mother knew the American mystery writer, Martha Grimes, as her mother ran the Muntain Lake Park Hotel in Garret County, Maryland, in the 1930's (NOT the Mountain Lake Hotel of DIRTY DANCING fame, which is in Giles County, Virginia, and which is heartily endorsed. I have never had a bad stay there.) Mom was then a teen-ager and knew Martha as a rapscallion youngster who would bother the family at work in their General Store. (Martin's Store is still there, in Mountain Lake Park, though under new ownership, my uncle have sold it a quarter-century ago. I do remember those Good Old Days.) In any event, Martha commemorated my grandfather as Mr Britain in her HOTEL PARADISE -- his real name was Britain Leo Martin. Hell, I knew HIS father, Charles Phillip Martin, who lived to about age 85 and whose funeral I attended when I was 12. Brittie was another welcher: he died at age 68. For the most part, our folks die peacefully in their sleep, smetimes in bed but generally sitting in a chair reading the newspaper. They fall asleep and Bob's Your Uncle.

As an aside, my personal belief is that I shall be shot dead by a deservedly jealous husband when I am 105, but, then, who knows?

I turned 59 yesterday. I suspect there are still a few years left for this elderly curmudgeon. Maybe so, maybe not. If I don't wake up tomorrow, my wife will so advise you. If neither of us wakes up, well, kiddies, you're on your own! I suspect it would occur to my son to contact Stan Yoder, whom he knows, at some point,

SAVE THOSE FAMILY ARCHIVES.  The information, once lost, is irreplaceable.

And, frankly, the heck with the kids. If they're not interested, well, that just indicates that you did not raise them properly. Even so, give the contents to your local library.


Cha robh bàs fir gun ghràs fir!

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