Thursday, February 20, 2014

Incomplete Picture

Some time ago I saw a picture of a bench overlooking a pond, with a question beneath it. "If you could spend an hour here, talking with anyone at all, who would it be?" What a difficult question to answer!  I put much thought into it, mulling it over, going through so many faces and personalities in history and life.

Would it be Jesus, who could inform me of what He plans for me? Could I choose Helen Keller whom I've always admired for her determination and spirit? Would it be one of my ancestors who could fill in the blanks for me and tell me about their lives? What a difficult choice to make!
 Finally I decided that I would choose my Mother's father.  When I could pick anyone at all, why would he be my choice, you might ask.  Because I know so little about him. I have my mother's stories, I have a few remembrances from my aunt, but since he passed away when I was less than two years old, I have no remembrance of him.

Grandpa Loper was a small man, about 5 ft 5 in. I know he was thin and slight, because I own one of the jackets that were a part of his Coast Guard uniform. It's surprisingly small!  I have many documents of his time in the service, rescuing those from the perilous seas. I see there his height, weight, eye color and when and where he was stationed during his long time of service.  

I have read the account of the 'last whale taken off Amagansett' in  February, 1907. My grandfather was in one of the boats on that day.  He was a very young man at that time. I would like to know what his thoughts were as he took part in that adventure with some of his family members. 

From the stories I have heard, he had a quick wit and a keen sense of humor.  "He wasn't around much because he was stationed in different places" I have been told. That would have left my Grandmother to raise her 4 girls alone, for the most part. However, the girls knew their father, and loved him enough to have fond memories of their time with him.  I only wish that I did.

I feel that not knowing my maternal grandfather, my life is a rather incomplete picture.  If I could spend just one hour with him, I would ask him one question. That would be this, "Grandpa, please tell me everything about yourself, your family, your life, until our time runs out?"  And I would not speak....I'd only listen.


Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Stories Behind the Visual

What do you see when you view this photo? You may guess the approximate time period, but it would be only a guess, unless you knew the people there.  Do you see a young girl and an old lady? It's  obvious that it is just that, but there are so many things that the camera's eye...or your own....cannot know when looking at this photo, and any other.  Let me tell you the stories in this one.

The picture was taken when the little girl was about three years old, which would make it 1950 or perhaps 1951.  The child is donned in a long cotton, striped skirt, which was wrapped, probably at least twice, around her tiny waist. Her Aunt Anita had been playing dress up with her, and the woman, 18 years older than the little one, had chosen her own skirt to put on the child. Then the Aunt had placed many bracelets on the tiny arm, and a string of beads around her neck.  A touch of lipstick and a hairbrush completed the look, before the loving Aunt brought her niece to the front porch to join the preschooler's Grandmother.

The older woman sat on the top step of her front porch with her first grandchild. She was enjoying a bit of the afternoon sun.  How is it that I know that the time of day is the afternoon?  I know because the woman is dressed in something other than a 'house dress and her apron' which was her before-noon attire. She did her housekeeping in the mornings, then she laid down for a rest after lunch, coming downstairs afterward in clothing and jewelry fit for guests, should they stop in.  It was her daily routine.  I know, too, that it's afternoon, probably mid-afternoon, because the shadows tell me that the sun is in the southern sky.  I'm guessing that it is Springtime, because the woman and the child do not have outer garments for warmth, but the wooden storm door is still on the front door. If it was Summer, it would not be on the house, and if it was Fall, it would not have been put on yet to shield the entry from the cold.

Some things are not obvious when we view photographs.  Sometimes there is more to the story.  I hope you have enjoyed the explanation of the hidden things that this photo tells me. How do I know these statements are fact? Because I was the little girl sitting with her beloved Grandma in the sunshine.