Old photos bring the past back to life

Published 11:50 pm Saturday, September 7, 2013

While busy looking for some specific photos this week, I stumbled across some really old ones, which momentarily distracted me from my original search.

The pictures were made at the home of my paternal grandparents and I believe the occasion was their 50th wedding anniversary, circa 1940. I’m guessing at the date because I was pictured on some of the photos and I looked about 2 years old.

We lived very close to these grandparents and saw them just about every day in those years so long ago. I was only about 6 years old when my grandmother at age 74 died with cancer in 1944, and I have trouble remembering much about her. My grandfather lived to be pretty old, so he was a part of our lives into our adulthood.

I have done a couple of oil paintings of grandpa’s old house, which burned a long time ago but lives on in memory. It is also plain in the background of some of those old anniversary pictures, which are all small but still beautiful in black and white.

As I picked up one of the photos, I remembered the vines my grandmother planted at the end of the porch. The vines grew up on strings she had attached for the purpose and provided shade for the area. I don’t think I have ever seen anything modern like those vines. They were thick and glossy, dark green with somewhat of a heart-shaped leaf. I think they made tiny red flowers at some point. They certainly made a good shade.

She also had a yellow rose bush by the front gate, which according to my father was a favorite of hers. The yard was surrounded by a picket fence, which had weathered to the exact gray color of the house, which featured board and batten. There was a large lean-to on the back, which was the kitchen. In those days nobody had grass in the yard and it was kept swept clean with a brush broom — homemade, of course.

One of the few memories I have of my grandmother was when she took a biscuit from the safe, made a hole in it and poured cane syrup in it as a treat for me. I remember how her kitchen looked, with the old wood stove, and behind the stove through a door was a small porch where she kept wood for the stove. In the kitchen were also a table and chairs and the cabinet, called a safe, where she stored milk and the meal leftovers, such as biscuits.

Outside, just steps from the back porch were the fig trees, with a pear tree nearby. Lining the lower back fence and into the field were numerous pecans trees. I also remember a green apple tree by the garden fence, which was outside the yard at the front and to one side. When you take time to prod your memory, all sorts of things will come tumbling out!

The anniversary occasion wasn’t anything fancy, but most of this large family was there and many photos were taken. One had my grandparents and their living children — all eight of them — another of the two of them holding their anniversary cake. I could see the small cake wasn’t big enough to serve everybody there! I’m sure there was plenty of food on hand for this occasion.

There are other photos of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Seeing the one of all the grandchildren made me remember my cousins. Some of them lived nearby and we had many wonderful adventures growing up together. We visited and played on a daily basis and we had to make our own play, as there were few toys to keep us entertained. Other cousins were only seen occasionally.

One activity the girls enjoyed was getting out the Sears Roebuck catalog and cutting out paper dolls. They were inexpensive and served the purpose very well. I also remember going to the barn and capturing the kittens there, wrapping them in blankets and making them our babies as we played. I also recall some evenings when we sat out on the porch and my older girl cousins would sing.

I’ve heard that old people live in the past and I certainly hope that isn’t true in my case, but it is lovely to look back and remember those happy times from the past, especially when photos are there to jog the memory.

I grew up at such a wonderful time in history, although there were wars and all kinds of terrible things going on, it didn’t touch us so much because as children we were sheltered from the world by our parents. We were oblivious to what was happening in our country or the rest of the world. The radio was for listening to the Grand Ole Opry, not the news. When the news came on, we scattered.

By the time I got though going through the old photos and reminiscing, I couldn’t remember for what I was searching. Oh, well, it will no doubt come back to me at some point. It couldn’t have been very important or I would not have forgotten!

Retired Lifestyle Editor Bob Ann Breland, a resident of Pine, writes a weekly column and may be contacted at bobann_b @ yahoo. com.