Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Don't Forget the Old People

   When taking pictures, don't forget the old people! I've been looking at collections of photographs and finally realized that most of us forget to take pictures of the older generations when they are with us, with their children.

 Larry Shoemaker with his three daughters, Dorothy, Edna, Betty and Frances at  Elk River on an ancient redwood stump.
   I have a collection of my grandmother's, Alta Bockhouse, and her pictures are mostly of scenery, mountains, and places they visited. I only have one picture of her mother. Grandma Bockhouse was taking pictures in the 1940's, but there are no pictures of her mother or step father. Her mother died in 1945.

   The picture above is a good example of what we should do, a parent with the children. Taken about 1947.

   In the box of my Grandma Moody's pictures, also in the 1940's,   I only found a few pictures of her mother or father, or her husband,  or his mother though she did not die until 1955.

   In my mother's pictures there was only one picture of her father, though I have found many since then from her sisters' collections, but usually only one or two from each collection.

   It's as if we only think of taking pictures of children. We have hundreds of pictures of our children.

   We lived in Arcata, California for only two years and have many, many pictures of our children there. My parents lived only a few miles away, but I don't remember any pictures of them in Arcata. We did make it a point one day when they were visiting to have my father talk into a tape recorder and tell his childhood stories. But I can't find any pictures.

Angelina Hamilton 1829-1915
   I have looked through our Arcata pictures many times and never saw any of Dorothy's parents, or her father's sisters, or her father's mother, yet her father's sisters were there, near by. We did visit them. Finally, in looking through Dorothy's mother's pictures we found some that her father Larry Shoemaker took in Arcata, so now we know that they came to visit us there, but we have none of them in our pictures at that time. Grandpa Shoemaker took pictures of our children and our house, but none of them or us (at least that I have found yet).

   We forgot the old people.

   Sometimes we remember to take pictures when our elders get really old and hardly look like they did before. So when you are taking pictures of your children, take pictures of the older people too.
Rufus Moody 1851-?

   This picture, above,  is of my great great grandmother who died in 1915.  In those days the pictures were quite expensive, so people treasured them more.

   Since I wrote those few lines above, I have had some second thoughts, so I have to "walk back" as the politicians say, some of what I said. Dorothy and I have certainly not taken enough pictures of the "Old People," but there may have been other factors involved in why I haven't been able to find pictures of the "Old People."

   My Grandmother Moody knew I was interested in family history, so she made a special effort to make sure I had copies of some of the "Old People." She had the picture of Angelina Hamilton above made and also made sure I got a copy, She also had copied  pictures of my Great Grandfather Rufus Moody and made sure I got one, and some other pictures, too.  But....

   Most of the boxes of pictures I have received have been "picked over." I received them through a cousin, or other relative after they probably took everything they wanted, so I  didn't get a copy. The pictures I received were those that were left. The "Old People" that were known had their pictures removed from the box.

   Other reasons pictures were not recorded of the "Old People" were family feuds, divorce, and distance. We have only two pictures of Rufus Moody. He lived on the east coast, and he was divorced from my Great Grandmother Eunice Hanson.

   We have  a picture of her (on the left), which seems to have been taken at the same time and in the same place as her mother's (Angelina Hamilton), but the other pictures of her are when she was much older. Grandma Moody made sure I got this one, but others I got  from my aunts' and uncles' collections were when she was so old I don't think my relatives who had the boxes of pictures knew who she was.

   She came to California after she married her second husband, so the divorce and the distance kept the family from having other pictures of Rufus who was on the east coast. The family didn't even know when he died.

   Then there are the family feuds!

   Dorothy and I are now going through boxes and boxes of things from her mother's home. Dorothy's mother just died less than a month ago, and I had to revise my reasons why we couldn't find many pictures of the "Old People." Dorothy and I just forgot. We forgot to take pictures of the "Old People," but others may have neglected the "Old People" because of family feuds.

Gene Blake, Edith and Larry Gene Blake at Elk River
   We are discovering that Dorothy's father, Lawrence Shoemaker, has a wonderful set of pictures of everyone during most of the time he was taking pictures. He remembered to take pictures of the "Old People" most of those years. We have not yet gone through all the pictures, but we have seen that he has taken pictures of everyone.

   Most of the time....

   I am counting the "Old People" as  any that are significantly older than us.

   I noticed that the pictures of Gene and Edith Blake, Dorothy's aunt and uncle, seemed to disappear from Larry Shoemaker's pictures. Edith was his sister, but at a certain point in time, which I have not yet determined exactly, pictures of her stop appearing.  It may have been the distance because Larry moved away, but I remember hearing rumors of some kind of feud at about the same time. Sometimes people deliberately do not go and see relatives when they are in the area.

   The Shoemakers came to visit us and we found pictures of our family in Arcata, California those two years we were there, but I didn't see any pictures of Larry's sister, Edith, or mother who lived not far from us with those pictures of our children.

   It may have been the feud. 

   I also remember rumors of a feud between my Grandmother Bockhouse and her mother who we only have one picture of.

   Pride and anger are terribly destructive  to families.

   When the "Old People" are gone and we are sitting looking at some of the wonderful old pictures, and the memories of the good times come back, we will probably regret those useless family feuds.

   As my Uncle Harry said at one family reunion years ago, "The old people are us now."




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