This morning, as I was purchasing these photos at the local antique shop, the clerk asked me if I wanted them gift wrapped. I'm not sure to whom I would give these images, but it was a pleasant thought that someone else might appreciate them. Perhaps the first photo shown here could be given on the anniversary of friends with a note that says something such as, "I hope that you are always as happy as this couple appears to be."
Besides the historical aspects of these images I collect, I treasure them for the way they make me feel when I look at them. How could a woman not melt when her husband looks at her as this dashing gentleman looks at the woman beside him? Or, is this a son and mother image? (It's especially hard to tell with the man in profile.) I've talked in my More Finds at the Local Antique Shop "column" before about my trips of the imagination and these three images transport me once again. Also, as I so often lament, none of these photos are labeled. But at least that allows my imagination to take me anywhere.
I suppose that the couple had children. Perhaps they are away on vacation. Maybe grandma and grandpa are watching the kids play on the lawn behind the photographer. Perhaps, this could be a bed-and-breakfast or summer home similar to the one my grandmother occupied in the Catskills. This snapshot was taken quickly in a "wait! Stand there for a second" moment that didn't much rely on a well-formatted picture. But if this image were of me, it would be much treasured just the same. Their expressions and pose filled with warmth are what is most important for the camera to capture in this quick documentation of a moment in their lives.
I'm assuming that picture number two must capture a family reunion. The image was labeled 1890s, NH. I wonder from where all these people came. Was this image taken when everyone arrived? As they departed? Was there a fabulous offering of food in the house or a picnic on the lawn? What games did they play? How far did these people travel to get here? What are their relationships? How lovely would it be to have some archival materials to fill in the missing information? Did someone keep a diary that included mention of this event? Perhaps there was correspondence related to its planning. Were their copies of this image made for the family members and do they still exist somewhere in an ancestor's home?
Picture three brings me back to my archives roots in Waltham, Massachusetts. These gentleman remind me of the Italian families in that city. Immigrants often found work in the United States and sent money home to their families along with letters and photos. Were these men brothers? Did they send pictures home to their mother? Wives? Girlfriends? Families proudly dressed in their finery to record a special moment or relationship. Is that what is going on here? If you look closely at the bottom of the photo, you can see the slightly tattered base of the photographer's backdrop and the rug he must have set out to make the image more "homey." Was this a traveling photographer or did these gentleman go to a studio for this image? Besides my questioning musings, this image is also appealing for the fine mustaches and fabulous three piece suit fashions. I just couldn't resist...