My dad had a serious hobby taking pictures, which he explored deeply while recovering from a serious illness in the mid-1950’s. He left the family with a treasure trove of hundreds of 35 mm slides, which have been stored in boxed carousels for decades. Recently one of my sisters had them scanned, 3 sets at a time. The photo below is one of the many photos that conjure up the presence of beloved ancestors. My brother’s words enrich my experience of this photo of my grandfather and great-aunt, which was taken before I was born.
“The picture from the latest batch was taken in the living room at Pop and Nanny’s house on 2nd Avenue South in 1952 or 1953. It brought back many good memories. As you can tell from the houses across the street, this was a nice south Minneapolis neighborhood with elms arching over the street. The west side of the street, where the house is, was taken for the construction of 35W. The east side may still be there but I am not sure about this. Date is based on our 1952 Buick parked at the curb. Must have been Thanksgiving or an early Easter. On his Banker’s day off, Pop wears a fancy silk-like shirt that would be fashionable today. Notice the well-chewed stogie in hand with more in the shirt pocket. That’s not coke in Aunt Margaret’s glass.”
During the sacred time around the death of my mom last month, I was keenly aware of how memory and story weave past into present, and present into future, and yet how everything seems to be here simultaneously. My mom passed away on September 17th. September was her favorite month. She was buried on the autumnal equinox the day before what would have been my dad’s 96th birthday. I’m reminded of the line from the lovely Stanley Kunitz poem, “Live in the layers, not on the litter.”
Here’s to the ancestors.