Old family photos bring new perspective
My mother and father keep our old photos in their hall closet in a sturdy old Pabst Blue Ribbon box.
Sifting through old photos is a glorious experience — one, we now know, that relieves aches and pains by calming the brain, according to a recent study.
The last time I looked through the box with my mother, we came across a black-and-white photo of a little girl.
That photo was taken 82 years ago, when the girl had her whole life before her.
Elizabeth Hartner Purcell at two years of age.
She didn’t know yet that one of her sisters would be struck with polio 12 years later, that her father would die at 49 just a month before her wedding, that she’d have six children and 17 grandchildren, or that she’d outlive two of her six siblings.
That was my mother’s picture. It was taken when she was 2.
Today we take photos on a daily — or hourly — basis. But before the era of smart phones, photos were taken mostly to document special occasions.
The old black-and-white photos often show family members in formal attire posing for graduation portraits, weddings and other important events.
Many require the help of our eldest family members to identify who the people in the photos are.