Amalgamation of Lives

Some old family photos

These family photos and mementos sat in storage for a long time. I’ve been bringing them home and going through them the last few months.

Left and right, my father, at once so athletically graceful and so awkward and beautiful. Top, my dad, uncle and lots of cousins, probably taken one hot summer in Fort Worth. Bottom, a family gathering in the kitchen, my grandparents among the people pictured.

In them, I find pictures of my dad’s mom from 1952, mingled with a portrait of my maternal great grandmother c. 1940.  My parents’ wedding album shares space with photos of students I taught at the university and my so-bad-it’s-not-funny prom pictures (hint: he wore white socks with his dress shoes, and I look like a disco ball).  A drawing my dad’s mom made for my uncle to explain the new baby she was bringing home from the hospital and a snapshot of my mom at the Renaissance Festival when she was exactly my current age. One of my cousin from New York at a few weeks of age, with his mom and dad.

My dad c. 1982

All of these people are special to me, but many of them barely knew each other.  They grew up in different states and countries, took different paths in life, varied radically in temperament and political persuasion.  Some didn’t see eye to eye with one another.  Yet now they all occupy my photo box together.  Who’d have thunk…

Nonnie, my great grandmother. She had piercing blue eyes and red hair, made delicious sunset chiffon jello, had quite the temper, was born in Oklahoma when it was still Indian Territory, and at one time, owned a sapphire blue-sequined flapper dress, which she used for actual flapping.

Inside, the signature of a relative and date: May 6, 1929.

The signature of my great grandmother, who I never met, inside the cover of a book of poems by William Cullen Bryant.

A very old autograph book that belonged to my great great grandmother.

" 'Our schoolgirl's happiest moments have dropped into the abyss of days gone by' but the memory of those bright hours shall ever be a source of pleasure to me, and my sincere wish is that your future life may only be as free of care and trouble. Sc. Yours, Alice Starkey, On the banks of the Guadalupe, October 2, 1883.

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