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Sixty-Something: The Collection Of Old Family Photos

T.J. Clemente

Sadly one day all those stories and words will be "discarded" with those photos. (Photo couretesy of the author)

As you get older you gather more stuff. Included in that stuff are photos of your family history. Photos of your grandparents, your parents, you as a child perhaps with your brothers and sisters. Then there are your wedding photos, photos of your children, perhaps their weddings and then if you are lucky the grandchildren. Slowly yet all of sudden somewhere in the home there is a quite a large collection of photos.

There was a time when old photos were treated like relics passed down from one generation to the next. I personally feel the digital camera and web has diminished the importance of photographs by creating too many of them. Kids carry thousands of photos on their phones, mostly of them in the form of selfies.

It's so sad when I watch folks move from their life-long family homes and have to wrestle with what to do with the decades-collection of family photos that once were so prominently displayed in their home. In my home I find myself still gazing at photos of my mom and dad, both now deceased, smiling with the family in the old framed photos. I believe looking at photos just doesn't have the same timeless feel when you put them on a computer screen. To watch people forced to put their treasured photos into folders or boxes some to never be seen again is so sad. I still discover photos my mom sent to me before she passed in envelopes that I tossed into various drawers and forgot about. Old grainy black and whites moments of their colorful lives tucked away in forgotten photos.

Sadly nowadays many old family photos are discarded during moves. Discarded is the classy way of saying thrown into the garbage. Today the kids do not revere old photos, heck they delete hundreds of digital photos weekly. Writing this now, it breaks my heart to think what will happen to the collection of photos I treasure so much now, most likely they too will be "discarded."

Of the very many photos I have collected over the years there are ones that somehow are displayed as if they themselves choose not to go into a drawer, old chest or folder. They get knocked down, moved, and relocated but they stay in sight somewhere in the home. Sometimes they are not even the best photos, but for whatever reason they remain on display as if they are family themselves.

I am a collector as was my mother. She would show me the things she treasured over time right up to her death. Photos, pins, and things I made for her in second grade like a clay ashtray. I now have one my daughter made for me at Prospect Hill School in kindergarten 25 years ago. It is next to the one I made for my dad 60 years ago.

On my desk are my special photos. Mostly with my daughters when they were young and so very much mine to travel with, hike and camp with and take long drives talking about everything with. Those photos still talk to me as I write at my desk. The love was huge, was real and is plainly seen. Every picture does tell a story and photo is worth a thousand words. Sadly one day all those stories and words will be "discarded" with those photos. However now they are alive in my home!


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