dinsdag 25 april 2017

Time travelling

Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to travel back in time inside your own life, or even beyond that, into your parents' and grandparents' lives, even if just for the briefest of moments?

Of course, unlike the protagonist of Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveller's Wife, who was afflicted with a so-called time-travelling gene, you'd like to have a say in the when and where, and arrive at your destination fully clothed. Preferably in the appropriate gear in order not to stand out too much.

Ready for take-off: 2017, 1998, 1990
Until such a thing is possible, I have to content myself with looking at old photographs and trying to recapture the moment caught on paper.

Being the unofficial keeper of the family's photographic heritage, I've had my fair share of this lately, and I must admit that it is not something I'll ever get bored with.

The controls are set for: 1987, 1979, 1973
Due to circumstances, there are several periods in my life which go largely undocumented, as little or no photographs were taken, which I will regret forever.

Here, I have to make do with what my memory (always fraud with subjectivity) comes up with. For some of these memories, rose tinted glasses are firmly planted upon my nose, while others seem to be framed in mournful black.

The journey continues to: 1971, 1970, 1968
Photographs, especially if not put into albums or at least some kind of order, have a tendency to be forgotten and neglected.

The majority of the ones I inherited, quite a mind boggling amount of them, are not labelled in any way. There's the odd one with a date and - if one's really lucky! - a place or a name pencilled on the back, but the rest are blanks in both senses of the word.

We are nearing our destination: 1965, 1964, 1962
There's the old red family photo album which started with me as a baby and ran until the early 1970s, just after my sister was born, and which used to be a lovingly maintained album full of chronologically ordered square black and whites.

Then my dad bought a super 8 camera and, while it was exciting to see moving images of oneself, the novelty soon wore off.

Fooling around with my dad's camera

Besides, these could only be enjoyed by putting up screen and projector which had to be hauled from their hiding place in an upstairs room, as well as darkening the room by closing curtains and blinds, preferably with the whole family present and sitting on the edge of their seats as if in anticipation of the main feature in the cinema.

The same with slides, which my dad later resorted to. I have never quite understood their appeal, preferring an album, or at least a boxful of photographs, to be taken out and looked whenever the mood takes you.



The red album still exists today, but it is in complete disarray: photos have been taken out and added willy-nilly. There's no system, no timeline, just a jumble or unrelated black and whites with the odd faded colour photograph thrown in, skipping from one era to another and back again. I have no idea what happened there ...



Several years ago, my dad gave me some boxes of photographs and documents belonging to my mum's side of the family.

I remember these, as they used to live in a chest of drawers in my maternal grandparents' attic room.


My granddad, a gentle white-haired man, who always wore a waistcoat with a pocket watch, sometimes took me up to the attic to look at the photographs of his and my grandmother's younger selves.



There were quite a few pictures too of my mum as a little girl in the 1930s, always with a huge bow in her hair, which must have been quite the fashion for girls at the time!

As a child, it was quite ungraspable that these were the same people that I knew as my parents and grandparents.


Then there were photographs of people I'd never known, but who are part of the fabric of my past nonetheless.


Top row: my maternal grandmother's twin brother and her dad
Bottom row: her mum and my maternal grandfather's mum.

Just looking at these photos takes me back to that attic room with its faded flowery wallpaper, well-worn linoleum and dark wooden chest of drawers, the sunlight slanting through the small dormer window, on what must have been a 1960s Wednesday afternoon.

Later, when my dad turned 80, he gave me the photographs belonging to his side of the family as well, as I was making a digital photo album telling the story of his life.


There weren't quite so many - I suppose my paternal grandparents didn't own a camera when my dad was growing up -  but as luck would have it, there were some with helpful captions mentioning a date and place.
I especially love the photographs recording the carefree years between the end of the war and the start of my parents' married life, when a whole group of youths, including both my parents, went on day trips by bike, or camping by the seaside. I have included these extensively in my dad's digital album (above).




I am taking tentative steps out of my time machine now.

Here, I am back in July 1975. I would be 14 in September.
The colours have faded - a typical phenomenon with photographs of the era - which adds to the nostalgia factor.
We were on holiday in Germany and this is a rare photograph of all five of us together.
The lady standing between my mum and me was staying at the same guesthouse with her husband, who took the photograph.
My parents kept into contact with the couple, who lived near Frankfurt, for years.


Next stop is ten years further along the line. It's 1965 and we're at the zoo in Antwerp with my paternal grandparents. I'm between my parents - I was still an only child back then - and my grandmother is on the left.

I love this photograph, as it captures the moment as it was. I don't think anybody except my grandmother knew it was being taken, so we're just being and not posing.

I have this photo framed and I often catch myself looking at it and wondering what it was I was looking at, and what was going on in my parents' minds that day, as they both seem to be lost in thought.



Oh, and before I return to the here and now, I would like to share these "swinging" pictures, more than thirty years between them, of my maternal grandmother (taken in the early 1930s, I guess) and me (1965).

Some things really are timeless!

40 opmerkingen:

  1. Dear Ann this is such a lovely post, all the pictures and all the memories.
    All to soon people are gone from our lives and there is no left to fill in the gaps.
    If I could go back in time I'd spend a day at nana and grandad's house in their back room with nana fussing round and baking. The smell when I opened the pantry door was wonderful. A mix of baked cakes and hovis bread.
    Thank you for taking me back there xxx

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    1. You're welcome Lynn. I'm taking a leaf out of your book, and am trying to write things down, like you do in your pretty notebook. I'd spend an afternoon in my grandparents' attic room any time, and I would have a peek in my grandmother's wardrobe at the same time! xxx

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  2. I'm struck by how formal everyone is dressed up until the family holiday photo in the 70's. The idea of wearing a suit to visit the zoo would be very difficult to grasp these days.

    I too am the keeper of the photos. I inherited them in a large straw tourist bag, all jumbled together with negatives and boxes of slides. More than 25 years on, I'm still trying to make sense of them. I'm labeling the ones I can, but with no one to ask, I'm left guessing.

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    1. I've got photos of my grandfather visiting the seaside in a suit, and when I was in Wales last June, there was an old couple on the beach, dressed in their Sunday best ... xxx

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  3. What an interesting post, Ann. I've just been looking through my photographic collection in some detail as my cousin, who lives in Ireland, has been staying with me.

    Like you, I am the curator of our family history in photographs. I have decided to work my way through them and label them as best as I can. So far, I have only found two where I can't identify the people in the picture!

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    1. Thank you Veronica. I am slowly piecing things together but with nobody left to ask, there's quite a bit of guessing involved ... xxx

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  4. I love your post, I really enjoyed looking through your photo album and hearing a bit of your family history. I recognise some of the fashion moments, I love the 1987 one, the childhood black and white ones are lovely too. xxx

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    1. Thank you Sally! The 1987 one really sums up the 80s for me. I was browsing through my records in that one, probably waxing lyrical about my Smiths 12-inches ... xxx

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  5. How wonderful. Family photos are always so interesting, I love seeing 'everyday' fashions. My mother is the record keeper in our family and now she's retired has embarked on a digital record of not just photos and family trees, but memories too. Should keep her busy!

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    1. My dad embarked on a similar project once, which I guess is how the red album ended up in disarray ... xxx

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  6. What a lovely post! I really enjoyed the peek into your family history, and am marveling at how similar our photos are! I have the same family holiday photo from the 1970s, and my Mum wore the same big bow in her hair!

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    1. Thank you Linda! I presume the big bow was the height of fashion for little girls back in the day! xxx

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  7. I love this! Most of my family photos are on slides, it used to be a bit of an Xmas tradition for Dad to get the projector and screen (kept in a green tartan bag) out and share the holiday photos, six months after they'd be taken, none of this instant digital stuff!
    I love the group family photo. You can get that effect on Picmonkey, its called "Time Machine". xxx

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    1. My dad had the super 8 films digitalized at some point. I should look out the DVDs some time. How apt that the effect is called "Time Machine"! xxx

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  8. lovely post, it's very interesting to have a look into your family's history, which makes me think about my own family and our own boxes full of photos taken in different ages, from 1900 to 1990 (oh, those faded pictures, so nostalgic!)
    besos

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    1. Thank you Monica. I've still got a few boxes to sort through. There are quite a few of my grandmother, Bertha, posing in different outfits! I wonder what she would have thought about my blog ... xxx

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  9. Such lovely photos! I have my families photographs and mostly know who everyone is in them and we have Andy's aunts photos too. My family would definitely want the photos from me if they knew I had them, but as I see it, they were given to me, so they're staying with me xxx

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    1. Thank you Melanie. I agree, if the photos were given to you, they are yours and they should stay with you! xxx

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  10. A lovely post. It made me smile to see the faded sepia tone of the 70's one. All of mine from that era are the same. Why did that happen at that particular time!

    My sister and I inherited boxes full of family photos. I have had a ruthless cull of all those of unknown people and places - we have no living relatives to ask anymore. How I regret not doing so before!

    However, I am in a real quandary what to do with those that I have left. Neither my sister or I have children so no one at all to pass them on to.

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    1. Thank you, Julia. I don't have anyone left to ask either. I don't have children but my sister has, so eventually it will all be passed on to them. For the moment, I am trying to make sense of them all, and maybe write down what I remember ... xxx

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  11. Looking at old photos is a way to go back to past times, and feel again the protection and love of parents and relatives... happy memories of celebrations and pleasant hours.
    In my family we didn'the take slides and my mum still jealously keeps her red album!
    It was very cute of you to share your photos...

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    1. I love looking at old photographs, and cherish the memories they evoke, even if they are sometimes bittersweet ... xxx

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  12. love the old photos of you! so sweet <3
    i have always mixed emotions seeing my own old pics - to many bad memories......
    xxxx

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    1. I'm sorry that looking at old photographs bring back bad memories for you, Beate. For me, most of them bring back happy memories of my childhood, but there are some sad ones as well ... xxx

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  13. Oh, what lovely photos! I know what you mean about regretting not having photos taken - I spent most of my 20s being rather camera shy, and do regret it a little now. (Though I'd rather be camera shy than taking selfies every other minute; that's a modern habit I'm glad I missed.)

    Your mum certainly had a good bow game going on as a child. She looks like she's been caught by a giant butterfly! It must have made her easy to pick out in a group of children.

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    1. Thank you Mim. I have hardly any photographs of when I was in my early 20s, as I didn't have a camera at the time. A couple of punk photographs turned up on Facebook, but they're all I have of that period ... xxx

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  14. What a wonderful post and such lovely photos. I do love the old photos. How fab to have a Super 8 camera. The grainy , jumpy quality is great.x

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    1. Thank you! We have a small collection of Super 8 cameras, including my dad's. It was always exciting when a newly developed film came in. xxx

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  15. Such wonderful photos and precious too! Its fascinating looking back at family photos and seeing the similarities, clothing and places where family memebrs have lived xx

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    1. The older I get, the more similarities I discover. It only struck me a couple of years ago how much I look like my mum when she was my age. And I certainly developed my love of clothes from my maternal grandmother ... xxx

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  16. What a lovely post! I enjoy looking through old photographs of my family and thoroughly enjoyed looking through yours and sharing your memories xx

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    1. Thank you Claire, and how nice to hear from you again! xxx

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  17. I loved seeing all the pictures of you at different ages! Your hair is such a different colour now! Really nice to see and hear about the family too!xx

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    1. Thanks Kezzie. I never really liked my natural hair colour, and have been colouring it for quite a while now ... xxx

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  18. What a delightful post Ann. So lovely to see you 'through the ages'...aren't you adorable in the 1964 photo with those beautiful curls! Your photos remind me so much of my own family's collection at my dad's where there are hundreds of snaps, going right back to the 19th century. Now my mum has gone I won't have much luck identifying the subjects ...I wish I'd listened to her now! Love 80's you with the perm, we all had one! xxx

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    1. Oh yes, my curls! My mum had my hair cut later that year, and the curls never came back! Most of the photos are from my mum's side of the family, and how I wish I'd been able to go through them with her ...

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  19. How wonderful! You look a lot like your Mum! I also love family albums, they are so heartwarming. Since I live far away from my parents and brother, they scanned one of our old family albums and send me digital copies of all of the photos. I haven't seen them in years, and what a day I had reconnecting with my past! Truly photos are a time machine!

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    1. Thank you Natalia. When I look at some of my Mum's photos, I am struck at how much I look like her when she was my age. It must have been amazing seeing your family photographs again after so many years! xxx

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  20. what a great set of photos - lovely to see the young princess :)

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