I've always liked looking at old photo albums. Fortunately, my mother always kept them pretty organized. Pictures were in albums and labeled so we knew who was in them. She also went back and organized the photos belonging to her parents and in-laws. Paging through them was a favorite rainy day activity for me when I was a kid. I guess it still is. Since my brother doesn't really have interest in such things I've been fortunate enough to have them pass to me. I've been looking through some of them lately and thought I'd share a few. Pardon me if I ramble.
We can trace our genealogy back to the forefather who first came to the US in the 1700s and I believe to his parents in Germany but this set of brothers in the picture below represents those who are most closely related on my mom's side. From the left (and youngest to oldest) you see Linwood, Roy, and Russell. I am the first great-grandchild of Russell. I never met any of these men since they all died before I was ever born but this picture demonstrates a certain rowdy togetherness that still permeates my extended family. I also know Russell and Roy were responsible as older brothers to get jobs early in order to finance Linwood's higher education but with the expectation that Linwood's increased earning potential would benefit his brothers as well as himself. That was the way things were done in a family which could not afford to educate all its members.
It's interesting to see how that has affected the branches of the family descended from each of these men. Linwood's family is full of engineers, architects, and professors who have lived very comfortably for a long time. Roy had only daughters who were prepared to be housewives. Among Russell's children and grandchildren are a great many blue collar workers who, with each succeeding generation send a few more of its children on to higher education.
Here are the sisters Helen (top), Florence (left), and Bertha(right). When Helen married Russell the family of brothers at the top welcomed the families of these sisters. Florence died before I was born and I know very little about her. Helen and Russell had 5 children (my grandfather was their oldest) who Bertha and her husband doted on since they were never able to have children.
Bertha was the seamstress who taught my mother much of what she knows about sewing as well as how to tat. I've tried without any measurable success to learn tatting. I am thankful to my mom for encouraging me to sew. I know she is very grateful to her great aunt for teaching her. Our other aunts and cousins are glad too since they all go to my mom for whatever repairs and alterations they might need.
Helen was the cook and baker. It was her nature to feed people. She fried countless donuts to sell. She cooked Sunday dinner for all the children and grandchildren every week. During the Depression her house was a well known stop on the circuit for the hungry seeking a meal. Her recipes consist of "a handful of this and a bunch of that mixed until it looks just so." If you wonder about where my tendency to be inexact in my recipes comes from she could be part of that. She was the family storyteller too and wove her magic well. That's something I have consciously aspired to.
Finally, we have Helen and Russell on their anniversary. I'm told he was somewhat stern in some ways and a bit lacking in mercy in others but I know she always spoke lovingly of him. Even though I was 9 when she died I still remember the look she'd get in her eye when she spoke of him and when she told the story of his death. There are days when I wish she were still here so I could explore her lifetime of experience and ask her how to live and love as well as she did.