Friday, December 21, 2012

“Best Wishes for 1955”

With a nod to those of you who can’t believe you are still here to read this today, I’d like to turn the clock back just a bit and revisit the holiday scene of one household over a half-century ago.

It’s not a household I’m familiar with, of course. It’s just a picture I found in an old box given to me by a relative of a relative of my deceased first husband. Talk about being removed from the pertinent details! Sometimes, I don’t know why people assume I can work magic with these mysteries, but they do. Because I love all things family, people tend to assume I also love nameless family I’ve never met—or, in some cases, even the friends of these people.

Why this little sweet photograph was saved, I’ll never know. It came from the belongings of my first husband’s grand-uncle, William Samuel Bean. Or perhaps from his sister’s belongs—you know, the Aunt Leona who always kept me guessing.

It was a photograph tucked in a box of photographs, kept among the piles of stuff sifted through after an elder’s passing, whoever it was. The imprint on the card was a traditional holiday greeting: “Season’s Greetings and best wishes for 1955.” Beneath, it was signed, “Love, Helen, Sid & Diana.”

I tried my best to find any traces of online records connecting these three names with a date near 1955. No luck. I’m presuming the photograph was taken for Christmas, 1954, and that the young subject might have been around three years of age.

Whether family member or friend of either Bill or his sister Leona, I’ll never know. Whoever that little girl was—and I’ll presume she was Diana—I hope she is now preparing for another happy holiday, in a home blessed with a sweet young daughter (or more likely granddaughter) looking much the same as she did in 1954.

Cards like this remind me of the desire to connect that is behind the drive to research family history. The pictures call to mind the people in our lives—and all the circumstances that surround them at that point in time—and how we seek to preserve those memories and those connections. In our efforts to pass these collected memories to the next generation, we find ourselves gazing at what we once were, then looking back to the present and realizing how much our sons and daughters—and grandsons and granddaughters—look like we did when we were three.

And then we look to the future and think of the generations who will want us to pass it on.


  1. A muff! Of course, this picture was saved. You can't throw away a picture of a little girl with a muff - it's a rule.

    I've done my share of collecting names, dates, locales. I've tried to be aware of historical events that served as a backdrop to my ancestors' lives. More and more, though, I'm intrigued by friends and coworkers that were a part of their lives. Names on receipts from my great-grandfather's store and nameless photos help me picture my ancestors just going about each day. Even if nothing comes of these remnants, they still enrich my understanding of who my ancestors were.

    1. Of course. How could I not have realized this?! ;)

      You know, my husband had to laugh when he saw the first two comments today mentioned muffs. Muffs were a big deal. I mean...a BIG DEAL. You just have to know this.

      Wendy, I've found that same thing drawing me in my research--details on the friends and neighbors who peopled my ancestors' lives. That pursuit gives a richness to our discoveries of what was important in their day to day existence--and sometimes provides clues to the bigger picture, too.

      At least, that's what I keep hoping...

  2. Oh she is adorable. AND she has a muff..I always wanted one but they came with the coat set that was way to expensive. I bet she would love to have that photo. never can tell..she may show up someday:)

    1. I know you have had lots of experience with that, Far Side--meeting up with the owners of those long-forgotten photos, or at least the descendants of those subjects. Despite lack of any surname, I'm hoping the same will happen for me here.


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