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Monday, November 16, 2015

Who's Important? and a Family Mystery

 
While sorting some things today, I came across a leather 4-fold picture frame that I don't recall ever seeing before.

family pictures

Judging from the age and three of the pictures that were in it, I'm sure it was my grandmother's. That said, there's a bit of a mystery...

The far left space has a picture of "Aunt Lucy." She's no relation at all, but was a friend of Granny's. She went on several vacations with us. To me, as a child, she was sort of a non-person. Just an adult who showed up for various things. Right at the moment, I can't even remember her last name. Clearly, she was very important to Granny. I never realized how much, if this collection of pictures means anything.

Aunt Lucy
The next slot is filled with a photo of my grandfather, Granny's husband, Howard Meade Rowe. I never knew him. He died before I was born.

Howard Meade Rowe
Next is, well... me. I'm about two. This was one of a set of professional photos that Granny had taken. There is another one that ended up being framed with Granny, Mom and me together (same dress, age, etc). I don't think I've ever seen this one of me alone.

Joan Hall Leary
Now comes the mystery part. Who was in the fourth frame? Clearly, there is a picture there of my mother. But it was not put there by Granny, and it doesn't fit the frame. The picture was taken after Granny was no longer living on her own. I'll show you the picture of my mom, in a minute. My guess is there was a picture there of "Jacques." (just say Jack- Granny had pretensions) Here's why I think that.

First of all, Granny never made any bones about it that Jacques and I were her favorites. She made a point of snubbing my mom regularly. Secondly, behind the too-small-for-the-frame photo is a letter written by Jacques that I've never seen before. Obviously something Granny really treasured. I'll treasure it too. Jacques (Merrill Fisher Rowe) was killed in a terrible accident when he was 26. We don't have many mementos of his life. Granny (her writing) has dated this 8/4/15. That's 1915. Jacques would have been eight. (In some ways, it's a little creepy to find something written a century ago, by an uncle I never knew.)

On the front it says "Dear Father, Uncle Lew put a saddle on Kate and I rode her around the yard. Love, Merrill."

letter from Jacques 1915
On the reverse is a picture of a horse with a rider. It's labeled "Kate and me."

child's drawing of a horse and rider
I think that Mom found this picture set at some point and removed the photo of Jacques. I know that she loved him dearly, but was naturally always hurt at Granny's favoritism. She couldn't keep it out of her voice when family topics arose. Then, she added her own picture, and three other letters to that last space. Those letters are two short notes I wrote to her, long after I was married and raising kids. Also, there is a thank-you note to her from Steve, our youngest, for a birthday gift. I would only classify one of those letters as anything significant, so I'm not sure why Mom chose to stash them there. She kept all my other letters, but I discovered them in plain manilla envelopes, long ago.

If Mom sort of commandeered the frame for people she cared about, I'm not sure why she left the photo of Aunt Lucy. I never had any sense of closeness between the two of them.

Do you think I'll come across a loose picture of Jacques that would fit this frame somewhere?

Anyway, here's Mom. Photo taken around 1965, my best guess anyway.

Catherine Rowe Leary
Families can be strange things, can't they?


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5 comments:

Lin said...

Oh, wow! It's funny how we think "drama" is all the current craze. It's sort of like the Kardashian's in a photo frame! Hahaha! Such drama in a little frame!

I hope you find the photo of Jacques. I like the drawing--look how little he is and how BIG the horse is. That is sweet. He must have been very excited to ride her.

vanilla said...

I like old pictures, old documents, and family mysteries. Thank you, too, for sharing another mother-daughter rocky relationship. I have encountered many such.

Sharkbytes said...

Lin- I noticed that too. He clearly saw the horse as BIG! Our family was good at drama- Granny's biggest talent.

Vanilla- I nearly threw up the first time I saw the movie Ordinary People. It was our family... the wrong set of people died leaving he other two to cope with their loss and each other. There are SO many things about my parents' childhoods that I do not know. They simply would not talk about those things. Sad really. I would rather have heard the stories.

Ann said...

Yes, families can be strange but the odd thing is that the more I hear the more I think strange is just normal.
An interesting family mystery. I always liked finding little bits of history in my dads house

Secondary Roads said...

Old pictures are interesting and fun. I have a large collection of family photos. Most of them are not labeled and I'm left to speculate.

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