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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Family Pictures...


The Family You Know and The Family You Don't

I can see why my grandmother fell for
my grandfather. What a dashing guy.
The mustashe is very Errol Flynn
I found myself sobbing uncontrollably a bit today. You see, I had asked my mother for pictures of my paternal grandfather as the books I had inherited from my grandmother was strangely devoid of his picture anywhere. Mom had sent them and I opened them up. There was a man that was in one way familiar and yet in another someone totally foreign to me.


How very young he looks.
Familiar but a stranger to me.

I had asked my mother for these pictures for my Hallmark family tree that I have in my dining room. Family is very important to me and I wanted to put this together not just for myself, but so my son had a visible history of where he came from. At first he wasn’t interested at all, assuming it was just another decoration, but every now and then he’ll ask who someone is on the tree. The left side is my husband’s family and the right is mine.


Looking at my grandfather’s pictures, I was touched at how young and full of hope he was. How he held my grandmother, the pictures of them on bikes with their baby (my father) in the bike’s basket, their wedding pictures and their family pictures. By the time I came around, while still married, they seemed to live very independent lives.  My grandmother was the one who would take us up north to the cabin, many times without my grandfather. My grandmother would do things with her sister, come out to see us at our house and baby sit my brother and myself all devoid of my grandfather. He had his charity work, working with a local radio station, driving the float in the local parades or working at Crossroads Village in Geneseeville ( We did do things together and they did too, but they certainly had very independent lives as well.


Grandma had ripped all these pictures up in the album I received. Twenty years after his death, she had found out some upsetting news that drove her to do this. I understand. I’m not that unsure I wouldn’t have done the same. Still, it left a void to page through all these pictures only to have none of the man who was still so much a part of my childhood.
Biking with baby.


When a family member seems to just disappear from the scene, it leaves a hole. The actions of one generation leave a scar on the next. People don’t talk about situations. Certain topics aren’t brought up or certain people. Life goes on but for future generations there is a big question mark. People have a right to know where they came from good or bad. They have a need to know why things were the way they were, why people behaved the way they did. As children, we may simply accept the way things were, but as wiser adults we wonder what made people behave the way they did.


Great Grandma S with one of my aunts.
I recently joined for that very reason. I’m not looking for some long lost royal ancestor or some famous person in history I’m related to. Rather, I’m searching for my material great grandfather. He married my great grandmother and left her before their child was born. She raised my grandfather as a single mother in the 1920’s. I’m sure she probably never thought of herself as a strong woman but I certainly do. It couldn’t have been easy, especially in an environment that insisted everyone be married and the woman was supposed to be at home raising the children while her husband worked. She raised him on her clerk’s salary.


Grandpa S, their son.
He never met his son the soldier.

Great grandma S always struck me as a kind woman. She clearly loved her grandchildren but things were always very secretive when it came to her husband. Everyone has one part of the puzzle but no one has it all. My aunt said that grandma S once told her that her husband’s name was John. Research shows it was Frederick John S. Great Grandma S also told my aunt that he moved down to Ohio and raised a second family. I’ve found no divorce records. Even when great grandma S was dying, my mother said, “I love you grandma” and great grandma S said, “I know”. Why couldn’t she say, “I love you, too?” Was it the way she was raised? Was it because of the way her husband had treated her? These are the unanswered questions. They trickle down to future generations who wonder the great questions as “Why?”



Ultimately, I think I found myself sobbing over my grandfather’s pictures because I realized that no matter what family drama had gone on in the past, I truly missed him. I missed his laugh and I missed his presence. And I will find out about great grandpa S, his story and his lack of presence. Why did he leave? What kind of person was he? Was my great grandmother better for not having him in her life or did she miss him? Did he ever wonder about his child or was my grandfather simply and inconvenience? Some of these questions will never be known but as a descendant, I carry this blood in my veins and have a right to know. Holes are horrible things.


  1. Stacey I am crying with you. I was fortunate enough to be left hundreds of photos of past relatives and stories to go with them, left by my Grandfather which I am currently trying to put together. There are some stories that were left as secrets until now and some stories came forward after finding people on We even had a family reunion after he died from long lost relatives that I found through that site, so good luck with your discoveries. Popping over from Time Travel Thursday, and so glad I have found you. A new follower x

  2. I wish you all the best in finding your family history. Too many times, things were never told to us, many times the previous generation just tended not to talk about such things. The problem becomes that no one knows their history. I had relatives that lived only two miles away from my home that I never met. The reason I never knew them is my mother never knew them. They lived in the same village!

    I'm so glad you were able to meet up with your relatives and start unraveling your family history. Best of wishes in your search and thanks so much for dropping by!

  3. I love your blog so much, I am adding it to my bloglist so I won't miss a post. We are different generations, but sisters none the less in my opinion. I've been collecting all my mother-in-law's old pictures and quilts and joining research sites this Winter to find the pieces of mine and my husband's family.