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Friday, February 3, 2012

OLD PHOTOGRAPH -- NOSTALGIA




Yesterday, I started going through my old paperwork in preparation of my move to Utah. 


Within my paper files I found two items that had slipped between some of my papers -- an old collar tag from a dog of long ago and some primitive drawings made by my young granddaughter.  These were nice finds and much beloved. I laid them aside to re-file later. Then I came upon an old school photo that had been missing for over twenty years. That photo is at the top of this post.


Someone's handwriting on the photo states, "Portland High",  and a date of 1895 which I take to be the year the photo was taken. Following this information are a few seemingly afterthought words --  "burned later." This is all that is revealed about the old school.


Now I never went to this school but I did at one time live in the charming town of Portland, Michigan where the school was once located. And while there, in my spare time, I became an antique photo collector.


There was a flea market in small town Portland that always had groups of old photos for sale. You know the ones that are going for high prices now. Well, I used to pick them up for fifty cents up to the grand sum of maybe three dollars. It was fun to peruse through all the old pics and get a glimpse of the culture that was current,  say in the mid to late 1800s -- dogs sitting on chairs, men in outdoor occupations, old store fronts, and circus performers from that bygone era. I even found a photo of the circus performers Tiny Tim and his wife with their signatures on the back of the cardboard backing. Little did I know that all of these photos would be so collectible in the future. 


Then I moved from this charming town. Far away to the west coast area. I carried my collection with me. 



After a few years I was in the throes of moving again. I cleaned out what I could live without and the photo collection was marked to sell. I sold them all to an antique dealer for what I paid for them. 

Many years later I became somewhat remorseful that I had parted with all of them -- not for the money sake but for their subject matter of common folkways. 

When I first found the above school photo in my papers yesterday,  I smiled -- it was the only one left from all that I had collected while living in Portland. Now, putting aside remorse,  it will serve as a reminder of the fun I once had collecting all those old photos of folks, animals and architecture of that long ago era.



12 comments:

  1. Things, sadly, like friends of the past are put aside. Things are sold, given away, lost; friends slip away, move away, pass away. So much is temporal but the memories, mostly, remain and we're surprised when some chance discovery bring them back. Very nice post. Thanks.

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  2. Oh How many times I have had garage sales when getting ready to move from one home to another. Most of those things I though I hadn't used in years, get rid of it, but every once in awhile I still look for it.
    Same with friendships. I think you have bestfriends everywhere you move to.I miss those friends that have passed, those that just don't keep in touch anymore for one reason or another. But, I too have photos that I look at which bring them back into my memory with a smile. Thanks for that posting and good luck in your new journey.

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  3. June -- I agree that so much is temporal but the memories mostly remain. Some folks don't want to be nostalgic yet to me it is part of our life. They balance the past, present and future. It is the material of which we are made. To cut off memories is like cutting off our hand. I am not a dweller of times past but I feel fortunate that I can draw from them. Thanks for the very warm thoughts. -- barbara

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  4. Diane -- Oh yes -- me too! I look for things all the time that were probably given or sold at a garage sale long ago. This time around will be different. I have made up my mind to travel extremely light. Moving will allow me to walk my talk -- to eliminate down to the bare bones. Except for my books of course. Thanks for the introspective comment -- barbara

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  5. I have bought a few old photographs and one small photo scrapbook from antique stores, and I'm always a little surprised to see someone's memories for sale. You wonder what happened to the family that no one would want to hang onto them.

    I like your response to June. I enjoy being nostalgic from time to time. I think it helps me understand my life. And, yes, provides balance.

    I did a real getting down to bare bones when I left SF and returned to MN. It was cathartic.

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  6. Teresa -- I too try to understand how old photographs can become orphans in the public market. One guess it that it is circumstantial -- last of the family to care has died and perhaps owners thinking there is no worth in the old photographs. Probably many other other reasons.

    Your post-Santa Fe purifying sounds great. I think we all need to do that ever so often -- helps clear out the old toxic emotions and puts both feet back flat on the ground.

    I so enjoy the YouTubes you put on your post -- they match so well with your post's words. --- barbara

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  7. A great old photo -- as you know, I'm in the mist of archiving old photos -- it can be enthralling... and overwhelming.

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  8. Barbara,
    Enjoyed the story in this post. I think of your post with photo of an old crock bowl. We have them around the house. Remnants of the things my mother-in-law cherished and used while alive. Hate to see you leave them behind.

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  9. Vicki -- I have a feeling for what you are going through. I once received my grandmothers photo album from my uncle. No one was identified but yet to me they were identified. Long story -- but one I am sure you are becoming familiar with. thanks -- barbara

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  10. Grampy -- I am not leaving my crock bowl behind.When I say I am paring down to almost nothing I do mean it but there are certain things, like the bowl, that I will be taking. I have accumulated too many extraneous objects that need to go. A few of my possessions will go to good homes. I think most of us probably have lots of objects that they could let go of and not look back on. -- Thanks -- barbara

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  11. I've heard of a few Portlands but not this one. Where are we? I've got to know. And why the name? Is it for the obvious... near water?

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  12. Birdman -- Portland, Michigan is located along a major river called the Grand. Grand River as it is known on maps. I learned something from you -- that towns called Portland are usually on water. Did not know this. Thanks -- barbara

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