A Piece of My Day

A Piece of Monday, 9 August 2010…

Posted on: Monday, 9 August 2010


Today, I decided to begin tackling a project which has been looming for some time: sorting the many photographs which have collected in various shoe boxes. I began this project knowing that there would be a purge pile – photos which would be tossed for one reason or another. The pile above is my purge pile – so far.

Now, I know there are some out there who think it is a bad idea to toss out photos – after all, they are history. I know you’re out there because I used to be one of you. But the reality is that the space to store such things is – and should be – limited. And so I have begun the purge pile, using criteria such as: Do I know the subject(s) in the photo, or the context in which it was taken? Is this a duplicate (or triplicate, etc.) photo?

The second question is easier to answer, for often the multiples are near each other in the same box. Remember the days of getting double prints so you could keep one and share one? Amazing how many of those I (or some other person in my family) ended up keeping, rather than sharing. (Oops!)

The first question is the difficult one for me, and here is why…

No one told me when I was orphaned at age 32 that there would be gaps in history which would begin to occur. No one explained to me that I would find a picture of people and have no idea who the people are, and I would have no one to ask. So, for instance, today I got to a pile of photos obviously taken by my father while he was in college. Some of the photos have family in them – keep. But others have pictures of his college friends (girlfriends?) – but I don’t know these people at all, and the pictures aren’t even labeled – toss. As I was sorting through this one particular pile, I found myself face-to-face with the orphan’s reality of not having Dad here to ask – and saying out into the air, “I don’t know who these people are!”

This is a painful reality to face, and I know that’s part of why I have neglected this particular task so long. Many of the pictures I am finding are familiar – they are old friends who have traveled with me since the beginning of my memory. Others of the pictures are newer acquisitions – passed on to me by relatives of my parents or saved by my late mother in boxes upon boxes. The familiar faces in the photos dance in front of me, and many of them make me smile…A fresh-faced, college-aged Dad standing in front of L.L.Bean. Mom, in her low-20’s, sitting at an organ bench. The two of them together, later, and they are beaming with their marriage license in hand. And, after a time, the appearance of a blonde-headed little girl with a sometimes-mischievous grin. And so on…

Now, I really don’t want to give much advice in this blog. But today – here’s some advice from someone who now has gaps in her history. Keep things which are truly meaningful, and label them as you can. Spend time explaining to your children or your spouse or a patient friend who people are in photographs. Give the things you keep some history, and pass the history on.

Peace be upon your day,



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