Friday, July 8, 2022

The Face in the Photograph


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Some time ago, I came into possession of a lot of old family photographs. Some of the people I recognized instantly, but some of them I had never seen in my life. That I remember at least.

And there was a moment when I realized there was no one alive I could ask. No one who could tell me who these people were. It was absolutely chilling. Dozens of story ideas, of course, swirled in my mind. Meanwhile, our dear friend of Jungle Red Leslie Wheeler was writing a story about the same kind of subject. Old photographs.

But a different take altogether.

Isn’t this the most fascinating thing?

A Photographer’s Daughter
   by Leslie Wheeler


In my first Berkshire Hilltown mystery, Rattlesnake Hill, an old photograph is central to the story. It’s Kathryn Stinson’s quest to learn the identity of a nameless beauty, her family’s “Dark Lady,” in a photo an ancestor carried with him from Massachusetts to California that brings Kathryn to the Berkshires in the first place. My third book, Wolf Bog, also revolves around photographs—a whole trove of them instead of a single shot.

These photographs document the gilded childhood and young adulthood of a girl whose wealthy, doting parents gave her everything she could possibly want. One box contains snapshots of the fabulous parties she threw as a teenager, where local boys mingled with the offspring of the wealthy. Yet the fairytale-like world ends tragically with the disappearance of a local boy, and the young woman’s death in a car accident soon afterward. Kathryn becomes convinced that the party photos hold the key to why things ended so badly.

Why so much focus on old photographs? For Kathryn, it goes with the territory. She is, after all, a curator of prints and photographs at a small private library in Boston (think the Boston Athenaeum, where a former neighbor of mine held a similar position). It’s also true that I grew up surrounded by family photos, many of them taken by my photographer mother, who in the early days did her own developing in a small room off my bedroom.

Young Leslie!

Mother had a strong artistic streak. An art history major in college, she became an interior decorator who created beautiful spaces in the various houses my parents occupied. Late in life, she turned to oil painting, but for most of my growing up years, she served as the photographer for family trips, birthday parties, graduations, weddings, and countless other occasions. She was a perfectionist, always striving for just the right shot, and was known to ask my father to suddenly stop the car when she spotted a bit of scenery she wanted to photograph.

Leslie's vintage holiday card

Mother’s need to have everything looking its best extended to my older sister and me. It turned the photo sessions for the annual holiday cards our parents liked to send into ordeals. She’d have us pose in the living room with the family dog, while she adjusted special lights and tried out different camera angles. This always seemed to take forever. By the time she was ready, our smiles had long since faded, and her telling us to “say cheese” fell on deaf ears.

Looking back, I think that a big reason Mother turned to photography was so she could hide behind the camera rather than be in front of it. A beautiful woman who, nevertheless, didn’t like the way she looked, she once went so far as to cut herself out of a photo with my father at a costume party.  

Leslie's mother's wedding photo

In the photos where she does appear, she’s rarely smiling, while my father often has a big grin on his face.

I take after my father: if someone points a camera at me, I’m going to smile.

Like my mother, though, I’ve continued the tradition of holiday photo cards with my own family, but I hope it’s not the ordeal for those involved that it was for me as a child. And family photos hang on the walls in my house, perch on my bureau and bookshelves, and fill scrapbooks and boxes I keep in the closet. I have my favorites that I never tire of looking at. 

One of them is a photo of my mother as a young woman. It was taken by a cousin of hers, and in it she’s actually smiling.

Readers, do you have favorite family photographs? One of the commenters will receive a copy of Wolf Bog!

HANK: It’s fascinating how many MORE photos we have these days, since everyone is always taking photos of everything. But in the past, they were scarce. And remember taking your film rolls to be developed? You never knew what you would get! What are your memories of old photographs? And do you smile when someone point a camera at you?  (And do you do holiday photos?)

And a copy of Wolf Bog to one lucky commenter!



LESLIE WHEELER

An award-winning author of books about American history and biographies, Leslie Wheeler has written two mystery series. Her Berkshire Hilltown Mysteries launched with Rattlesnake Hill and continue with Shuntoll Road and Wolf Bog. Her Miranda Lewis Living History Mysteries debuted with Murder at Plimoth Plantation and continue with Murder at Gettysburg and Murder at Spouters Point. Her mystery short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. Leslie is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and a founding member of the New England Crime Bake Committee. She divides her time between Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Berkshires, where she writes in a house overlooking a pond. Visit her website .


 


ABOUT WOLF BOG

In the drought-ridden Berkshires a group of hikers that includes Kathryn Stinson discover the perfectly preserved body of a local teenager, missing for forty years, at Wolf Bog.


Who was he and what happened between him and Kathryn’s close friend, Charlotte Hinckley, to make her distraught and blame herself for his death? Searching for answers, Kathryn learns of the fabulous parties held at a mansion up the hill from her, where local teenagers like the deceased mingled with the offspring of the wealthy. Other questions dog the arrival of a woman claiming to be the daughter Charlotte gave up for adoption.


But is she really Charlotte’s daughter, and if not, what’s her game? Once again, Kathryn’s quest for the truth puts her in grave danger.






 


103 comments:

  1. Photographs hold such importance in so many lives . . . Leslie, your book, with its mystery, sounds fascinating; I’m looking forward to finding out about the secrets at Wolf Bog.

    When the children were growing up, we took holiday photographs every year. And, yes, I have several favorite family photographs!
    The immediacy of a cell phone photograph is convenient, but there’s something special about turning the pages of a photo album or holding a picture in your hand.
    And then there was always that anticipation when the photographs were finally developed and you were finally able to see your pictures . . . .

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanJuly 8, 2022 at 12:48 AM

      Oh yes, and the joy when you got a good one! I love photo albums, too. Xxxx

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    2. Thanks for your comment, Joan! Glad to hear you took holiday photos, too. And yes, the immediacy of a cell phone photograph is nice--it's what I use now--but as you say, there is something truly exciting about seeing how your photos have come out after they've been developed

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  2. Congrats on the new book!

    I can't think of a favorite family photo off the top of my head. There are certainly many that make me smile, including the one from 9 years ago I have as my computer's desktop. It's of my family at a favorite state park when my nephew was just a few months old.

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    1. Thanks for you comment, Mark. Good to know that a family photo graces your desktop, I enjoy seeing them on people's backgrounds on Facebook too.

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  3. Congratulations on your new book, Leslie. I love books where photographs play a part in the story, often giving a major clue to solving a murder. I especially enjoy my family photos of growing up, when the world was such a different place. We kids ran the neighborhood, so lots of pics with friends, and the clothes that were in style are always interesting. This probably is weird, but I'm a little weird, but one thing I do with old photos is imagine what the people in the photos were doing right before and right after the picture was taken. Did they have any realization that this was a moment in time to be looked at for years after? And, sometimes I'd like to go back to that moment in time with the gained perspective of today. I have favorite photos of growing up in my family, of my children growing up, and now my grandchildren, but there are to many to pick just one.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Kathy! I love what you say about wondering what the people in the photos were doing before and after the picture was taken. Don't think it's weird at all, but shows that you're a creative person who asks "what if" type questions that are so important in writing fiction.

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    2. OH, that is such an evocative question! Oh. I will never not think about that...

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    3. It just resonates with me that the people in the pictures have or had lives that were ongoing when they stopped for a few seconds for the picture and then returned to whatever they'd been doing.

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  4. Photos bring back such memories. I have one of my deceased sister clowning for the camera when we were in Spain. And one of Mom before she was married clowning around on a donkey. Do I sense a theme here? I can’t wait to read this latest mystery!
    Pat D

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    1. Agree with you that photos do bring back memories, Pat D. One of my favorites that's on my bookshelf is a shot of my mother, my late husband, and my son as a young boy in a favorite park we used to frequent. The gray sky lends an almost ghostly grayness to my mother's and my husband's faces, reminding me that they are no longer alive. Only my son is around today. Thanks for your comment!

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    2. That's great! What wonderful memories...yes, a theme!

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  5. I'm really looking forward to this next Berkshire Hills installment, Leslie! Of course I love old photographs. I was stunned to find one of my maternal grandmother as a young woman sitting on a rock out west reading a letter with a rifle across her lap. It's already sparked a couple of short stories and a novel.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Edith! Love hearing about the photo of your grandmother with a rifle over her lap. You obviously come from a family of strong-minded women, and I'm not surprised that they show up in your fiction.

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  6. Leslie, I'm ordering WB right now. What a great theme. I recently downsized my bookcase and the toughest things to edit were the photo albums, because the hairstyles and outfits kept teasing me down memory lane. Huge time sponge, but delightfully so.

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    1. Great to hear from you, Judy. I also find it difficult to throw away scrapbooks of photos, and high school and college yearbooks as well. Open stuck like you by the differences in hairstyles and clothing.

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanJuly 8, 2022 at 11:59 AM

      That’s why they are so precious— A moment in time! You are absolved from throwing away photo albums :-)

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  7. LESLIE: Yes, old photos can tell a story or be a mystery. I found a bunch of photos from the 1950s in my late father's apartment. No names, places but I did recognize my dad, grandparents but none if the other people. Like Hank, i realized there was no one still alive to help ID these people.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Grace. It's indeed sad when there's no one left alive to identify mystery people in a photograph. My mother had a photograph of her and Buster Crab, who was an old Hollywood film star, taken at the beach in California. It was perhaps the one photo of her she liked us to see. If she hadn't identified him, we probably wouldn't have had a clue who he was.

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    2. Buster CRABBE, Olympic gold medalist who became Flash Gordon in Hollywood. When his old serials showed up on TV in the Fifties, I had such a crush on his all-American smile. Google him!

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    3. Hank Phillippi RyanJuly 8, 2022 at 12:00 PM

      Oh, I remember him!

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    4. Yes, Buster Crabbe, that's the guy--Flash Gordon, it all comes back to me know, and I can see my mother in one of those old-fashioned bathing suits women wore in the 1940's sitting on the beach with him and other men, I think, and women.

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  8. Like Hank says, we have loads more photos today, but their nature is more ephemeral, isn't it? How likely is it that anyone will find all the many files, thumb drives, and cloud storage areas our photos get to? On the other hand, families who've lost their photos to fire, tornado, or other disaster can access those cloud files, at least.

    My mother is 92, but her memory of the "olden days" is almost deliberately obtuse, and her favorite response is "I don't remember all that stuff." Unreliable narrator!

    Wife of a professional photographer here, and as Hank will tell you, the secret to getting a good photo taken is to stop talking and just smile. Every photo of my mom when she was younger had her scowling and making faces because she hated how she looked in photos, and would be saying that very thing every time the camera was pointing in her direction!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Karen. Interesting that you're the wife of an professional photographer. Love the advice to quit talking and just smile at the camera!

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanJuly 8, 2022 at 12:05 PM

      There’s a thing that might be a myth that says that in every Weegee photograph of a bizarre or tragic situation, there’s always always someone’s smiling.

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  9. Welcome Leslie, what an intriguing premise! I love old family photos and we have lots scattered around the house. I also take a ton with my iphone and love to look through those. I think they cement memories in a way that wouldn't happen otherwise.

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanJuly 8, 2022 at 12:07 PM

      We should do a blog someday on how many photos are on our phones!

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  10. Welcome Leslie and congratulations on your new book. There is nothing like a photograph to take you to another time and place, to open the cache of memories from another part of your life and to evoke mysteries. If you are lucky enough to get family photos like Hank and Grace have, you will find faces of people you never met, and unless someone wrote those names on the back, the search for their identities could take you to some interesting places. I love how old photos play a part in your mysteries.

    Coincidently, this weekend, my cousin and I have a date to go through family photos to select the ones that will be displayed at a memorial for her mom. Take out your hankies!

    Now, I am off to look for Rattlesnake Hill!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Judy! Love what you say about photographs opening the cache of memories and evoking mysteries. Confess that I'm such a photo nut that I have purchased daguerrotypes (an early form of photography) at yard sales, and one of them in a small velvet-lined leather case inspired the photo of the mystery woman in Rattlesnake Hill. Like you, I've put together photo montages to be displayed at memorial services for deceased relatives, and it's something my main character does in the mystery that will follow Wolf Bog.

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanJuly 8, 2022 at 12:12 PM

      Oh, that is such a lovely meditative ritual… I hope there are many wonderful memories…

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  11. Such an interesting post, Leslie, and the photos are perfect. Congratulations on the publication of Wolf Bog! The title is terrific, and I look forward to reading it.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Brenda. Glad you like the photos. Frankly, it was hard to choose among all the ones I have, but I knew one of them had to be my mother's wedding photo, which my late husband kindly had framed for me, and it's up on the wall in my condo. Thanks also for your interest in my book.

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  12. Congratulations Leslie! It sounds like a fabulous story. I spent a long time with a box of old family photos after my parents died. My mom had duplicates of many many photos and sometimes 3 or 4 copies. She quite obviously took more pictures of the baby twins than of her third child, who came along 4 years later. I had a lot of the photos digitized for my sisters and me. Like Hank, we found photos of unidentified individuals--a little sad, but at the same time it was fun to speculate (are those the Northern Irish cousins?)

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Gillian. Like your mother, mine had many, many duplicates of our childhood photos. How nice of you to digitize for your sisters and self. And yes, it is fun to speculate who those unknown people in some of the photos are.

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  13. I'm not all that photogenic but I like to take pictures. I still have the old film camera my dad got me one Christmas. Works great! And looking back at old family pictures is neat, there's relatives I never met and pictures of ones I have that look so different in their younger days.

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    1. I'm not sure how photogenic I am either, Alicia, but glad to hear you like taking pictures and that you have the old film camera you dad got you. I had an old film camera that I used for many years, and was truly sorry when it was damaged and I couldn't use any more. Thanks for your comment!

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanJuly 8, 2022 at 4:37 PM

      Do you think it’s the taking of the pictures or the looking at the pictures that’s the joy?

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    3. I think both the taking of photos and looking at them later are joyful moments. It's exciting when you get what you feel is a great shot, then, later, assuming it is at least somewhat great, it brings that moment back to you, which in itself can be a job.

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  14. When I was growing up film was expensive and we only took photos maybe once a year, usually our vacation trip. So much not captured and preserved! My dance competitions, pictures inside our house, none of my birthday parties
    Now they are just in my head and will vanish with me. That’s why I take so many pix now! Rhys

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    1. Sorry to hear your family wasn't able to take more pictures because of the expense, Rhys, but sounds like you're making up for it by taking lots yourself. And maybe you can put those photos in your head into words, as a way of saving them, or even a sketch. Thanks for your comment!

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  15. Old photos are certainly revealing. My mother hated having her picture taken so almost all I have of her are professional shots. Polished. Put together. Glam. She wouldn't even let the photographer at my wedding take a picture of her. Sad, really. Such a wonderful source for writing a mystery, Leslie! Wishing you the best with the new book... it sounds great.

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    1. It's indeed sad that your mother hated having her picture taken so much, Hallie. Confess I've gotten fussier about getting flattering shots now that I'm older, and for publicity, often use photos that were taken when I was younger. Thanks for your comment and good wishes for my book!

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  16. In their album, "Bookends," Simon and Garfunkel sing, "I have a photograph. Preserve your memories...." Someone asked me, on this blog a week or so ago, for a photo of a dress I had described. There was such a photo, the best one of me and my lost beloved (who died nearly three years ago). I treasured it, put it in a safe place, and it (and everything else in that "safe" place) was lost in the grand downsizing move I made five years ago. I comfort myself regarding the loss of that photo by reminding myself that the loss of the person was more important, and that fifty years from now, there will be no one to remember either of us, or the photo of us. And I can still see it in my mind's eye.

    What I still have, alas, and can't bring myself to throw away, are a thousand postage stamp sized school pictures that were included in Christmas cards over the years with nary a note on them. Whose kids are they? What was I supposed to have done with them? Although mass produced, might some of them be treasured as would be ANY photos of a woman I once met, who grew up in California, and whose house burned down in one of those wildfires that come through the canyons every fall. "It's like I didn't exist before age 12," she told me. Preserve your memories....

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    1. Thanks for your long and thoughtful comment, Ellen. I'm not familiar with the Simon and Garfunkel song you mention, but am a fan of their music, so will have to check it out. Sorry for the loss of your favorite photo of you and your late husband, but glad you can at least see it in your mind's eye. Interesting about all the school photos of unknown children. Confess I'm heartened by the fact that my son and his wife asked for photos of me and his late dad either for his birthday or Christmas--can't remember. And those photos are up in their house. As the song goes "Preserve your memories!"

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanJuly 8, 2022 at 4:39 PM

      That is incredibly poignant, and so wise!

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  17. I love looking at old family pictures! My father had a 35 mm and took millions of slides which my sister put on disks for us. What surprise me was seeing pictures of me that I had absolutely no memory of the occasion. In those pictures I was a teenager, so I should recall something. In one picture I was holding a gun!!!!!! I have told people I never touched a gun in my life, but that picture was undeniably me. In another one I was in a boat with my brother and boyfriend; none of us remember where or when it was taken.

    Then there is the picture that I thought was my grandparents when young, maybe on their wedding day. But looking carefully, it really did not look like my grandmother and the man actually looked more like my great uncle. Truly, the woman looked a lot like my other grandmother, who had never, as far as we know, ever met that great uncle.

    When I can, I like to put the names to people in the pictures, but now I have run out of people to ask, people who would know the answers.

    Your book sounds great, Leslie and I look forward to reading it.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Judi, my mother took tons of slides, and when my sister and I were clearing out the house prior to selling it, she stayed up late at night, squinting at slides to determine which ones were keepers. Recall her saying, "Here's a cute one of you, Les." and she was right. I took the slide and other pictures of me that I liked home w/ me. Interesting that the pictures show you doing things you don't remember, Judi--like holding up a gun, and also that you don't remember where others were taken, or even who exactly is in a particular picture. Finally, thanks for your kind words about my book.

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanJuly 8, 2022 at 4:40 PM

      That is so mysterious! And once again proves how our brains are such fascinating things …

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  19. And oh, Leslie, while I am fascinated by the ideas in your new book (congrats!), I am obsessed with trying to figure out, by the hairstyle and dress style, what YEAR was your wistful mother's wedding photo.

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    1. Hi, Ellen, no worries about being obsessed by year of my mother's wedding. At the moment, I can't tell you the exact date except to say it was probably sometime in the early 1940s. I do recall that when my sister and I were cleaning out the garage at my parents' house, we found an old newspaper with our parents' wedding announcement, and it was interesting to see how they were described in the story. Will have to ask my sister if she remembers. Thanks for your comment!

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  20. Leslie, congratulations on the new book--I hadn't thought of 'bog people' in relation to the US, so this certainly got my attention! Wolf Bog is heading to my TBR pile.

    I scan and share a great many photos of earlier times to my facebook page, where my many cousins can enjoy them and reminisce about our parents and our grandparents. And yes, there are a few photos with faces that no one now remembers.

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanJuly 8, 2022 at 4:41 PM

      Faces that no one remembers. Wow. That is a great title.

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    2. Good for you for scanning and sharing old photos in you FB pages, Flora. Should start doing that myself. As for the "bog people," you're right to sat they're mostly found in the UK and elsewhere, but not in the U.S., though in my bog research, found mention of some that had been found in Florida.

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  21. HANK: Such an interesting topic today because I was just talking about photographs the day before yesterday. I mentioned that I found a photo of my great grandparents (yes, the great grandmother who was a hoot!) and their children, including my grandmother.

    LESLIE: Welcome to JRW and your new novel sounds intriguing and very mysterious! Your Mother was really beautiful. Some people do not like having their photographs taken. I love looking at old family photographs.

    Before the advent of DNA testing, I would look at old family photographs to see which currently living relatives resembled our ancestors. My first cousin had a strong resemblance to our great grandmother. I have a strong resemblance to our grandmother. My blond Viking white father and biracial President Obama are 9th cousins twice removed through Obama's white mother. I can see the resemblance in their ears! Now with DNA testing, we can find out more information about ourselves and our ancestors.

    Though I do not always look great in photos, I still take many photos and shoot my camera because as a family historian, I like to keep a photographic record. And I took many photos in college. Often I would meet someone once then later that person contacts me and I did not remember that person until I saw a photo of us!

    Diana

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanJuly 8, 2022 at 4:42 PM

      Oh, I am not sure I have any photos from college, wow. Maybe not at all! That’s very bizarre. But I know that one of my roommates still uses her college photo as her Facebook profile photo – – isn’t that hilarious? And when I first saw it, I thought wow, she looks just the same !

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    2. The question of family resemblances is a whole subject in itself. Much to be said about it, especially with the advent of DNA testing. Thanks for sharing CD!

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    3. Sorry, meant to address your message, Bibliophile. It's been a long day. Thanks for sharing!

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  22. What a neat place to find a story. Congratulations on the new book! I like stories where a photograph contains a hidden clue especially an old photo that was more composed and less 'shopped than those we can get these days.

    My Mother loved photographs. She had albums and albums of them, most of them neatly labelled. And she kept all the photos that came her way from the older generation too. (My grandparents had daguerreotypes of their fore bearers. Don't know where they are now. The daguerreotypes, that is. I'm pretty sure I know where the ancestors are.) She had formal portrait pictures of various family members hanging on the walls. When she died and we downsized my father into a new apartment, my 3 sister, my father and I went through them all. Some survived, some did not, but my oldest sister remembered an admonition from My Mother to always look at the back of the portraits. She had taped a bunch of gold krugerrands to the back of the picture. Mother's kind of saving for a rainy day, I guess.

    There is one photo that I kept. It is of my maternal grandmother and her sister, with their husbands sitting around a campfire in the Colorado Rockies. There is an pick-up truck in the background. The women are dressed in slacks and flannels. Everyone is laughing. Within 5 years of the photo My Mother would be born and both women would be widows. After their husbands died, one of mustard gas poisoning, the other of black lung, they lived together and raised Mother by themselves in a mining town. Is it any wonder she closeted gold?

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    1. What a great story, CD. Your grandmother and her sister were certainly intrepid women!

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    2. Thanks, Flora. My grandmother was truly a character. Long red nails and blue hair, a smoker and a drinker and a poker player in her older days and a heart the size of the Rockies.

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    3. Hank Phillippi RyanJuly 8, 2022 at 4:44 PM

      Wow. That is such a cinematic vision, isn’t it? And so fascinating that you are biologically connected with that.

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    4. What a rich and intriguing family background you have, CD. I love stories of strong women. Thanks for sharing!

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  23. Pictures tell stories, even bad onrs. My mother's mother was a portrait photographer and colorist. According to my mom she was very good at removing the most minute pimple from a portrait. My aunt has a beautiful portrait of herself of a young toddler taken and colored by grandma. When she was starting in the business she and grandpa were traveling photographers who would take photos and come back weeks later to sell them. A sad story was when they returned to a home and was told the toddler had died. The portrait they took was the only picture this family had of their child.

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    1. Interesting story about your grandparents being traveling photographers, Deana. Finding out that the child they'd photographed had died was said, but at least they had the photo to remember the child from. I realize this may sound kind of creepy, but families who went west and lost their children had photographs of them holding the dead children as mementoes. Thanks for sharing!

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  24. Congratulations on WOLF BOG, Leslie (awesome title, by the way.) My favorite family photograph only has me in it tangently. In 1961, for the only time, all four of my grandmother's daughters were pregnant. There's a wonderful picture of the four of them standing in front of her house, all glowing and at various stages of showing. It reminds me of both a bygone age - of large families and early marriages - and also the fun I had with my cousins, three of whom were almost exactly my age.

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    1. Thanks for your congrats, Julia! That's a lovely memory of a photo of all four of your grandmother's daughters being pregnant at the same time. And yes, it does speak to bygone days of large families and early marriages.

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  25. One of my family photographs was taken when I was about twelve years old. My grandparents hosted a big family party in their tiny apartment. There weren’t enough chairs to go around; I think a lot of the kids were sitting on the floor. In the photo, Grandma is sitting in Grandpa’s lap. Both of them are looking directly into the camera, and laughing. I remember them as two happy people in love with each other and their family.

    DebRo

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    1. DebRo, I love the description of the photo of your grandparents. I have a similar photo of my parents that I cherish.

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanJuly 8, 2022 at 4:44 PM

      Awwwwww— that is the best legacy ever.

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    3. Yes, I get a vicarious pleasure from the thought of two happy people like your grandparents sitting together and laughing. We need more images like that in these often difficult times.
      Thanks for sharing, Deb!

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  26. I meant to say “one of my FAVORITE photographs”

    DebRo

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  27. Hi Leslie! I'd love to have seen the photo of your mother smiling. She was certainly beautiful. It's so interesting how people perceive themselves, isn't it? The entire photo album from my childhood disappeared. I feel as though I've been vanished! (Now there's a jumping off point for a story...)

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    1. Not sure where that photo of my smiling mother is, but I hold it in my mind's eye. I'd feel like my childhood had been canceled if all the photos of it disappeared, but it does make a good starting point for a story!

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  28. Oh my gosh, Hank! After cleaning out my mother's storage, I'm surrounded by boxes and boxes of family photographs these days. Mom was the hub of all family celebrations, and my Dad was the family photographer. So many photos, it's impossible to pick a favorite.

    I love the premise of WOLF BOG, Leslie. Sounds like my early life, minus the tragedy. I'd love to read it. Best of luck!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words re Wolf Bog, Gay. Maybe if you picked several favorite photos in stead of one it would be easier.

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    2. Gay! SO great to see you here! And you are so lucky to have those! xxx

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  29. Congratulations on your latest book, Leslie. I think the photo premise is terrific. My brother has recently digitized all the slides from our late father's collection, and it's fascinating to see those old family pics. Hank is so right: Better ask my mum NOW, while I still can, about some of the people -- who on earth are they?!?

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    1. Glad you like the premise of Wolf Bog, Amanda, and yes, Hank's right: ask your mother while you still can who all those strangers in the photos are!

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  30. I have boxes of family photographs and my sister has more. But our favorite one is a portrait of my parents, long before cancer and chemo took their toll on our mother.

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    1. Ah yes, Liz, it's wonderful to see people you love in better times before illness takes its toll.

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  31. I have boxes of old photos from both sides of my family. I've also written stories about my ancestors. One concerned my g.grandfather, August Boilliat, who was on his way to New Orleans around 1860 with a flatboat full of vegetables, grain, and his homemade bourbon (Bulleit Frontier Bourbon today). He was apparently killed, the contents of his boat was stolen, and no one ever heard from him again. We have pictures of his wife, Marie Julia Dulieu, but none of him. We don't even know his ancestry since the church that would contain his records in France was burned to the ground. I love these old pictures and imagine what the people would've been like.

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    1. Amazing story about your great grandfather, August Boilliat, Mary. Grist for the fictional mill? Hope so. Thanks for sharing!

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  32. Leslie,

    Your mother was quite beautiful. I love the wedding photo. Best wishes for the success of the new novel.

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    1. She was indeed beautiful, Jacqueline, and thanks for your good wishes for my novel.

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  33. Fascinating questions! I was the family photo keeper for years until one move, none of the photo boxes showed up. I was devastated, but all was not lost. I had given my brother my Uncle's WWII cruise album - it had some early pix of Pearl Harbor that were heartrending - the ships were still smoking. So I'm glad that was saved. My Dad's family albums were lost though, and my parents' wedding album. I do have several cherished photos that I had framed. The best is one of my grandparents, and my uncle who died in WWII leaning against my father's pride and joy at 1941 Studebaker Commander.

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    1. Hi, Kait, nothing like a photo of family members with a favorite car, and good for you for getting your favorites framed. Thanks for sharing!

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  34. Photographs have always interested me greatly since they are meaningful and memorable. My father took many photos of the family with his 35 MM camera which I still have. This camera is precious to me and I will keep it forever. I have albums of photos which I cherish. Many when we were young, and on holiday or just candid shots at home. My favorite holiday photo is one of my father in a rowboat fishing with me when I was young. Every summer we went to a fishing camp at a beautiful lake and swam. fished and enjoyed this beauty and place.

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    1. My father was an expert fisherman too, traveler, though I didn't appreciate it when he pushed the raft I was in out into the middle of the lake and said, "don't come back until you've caught something!

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    2. And what a treasure that camera is! Think of the things it must have seen...

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  35. A most wonderful and captivating post which resonates with me. The many black and white photographs which I have are amazing, beautiful and extremely important. So many moments in time to preserve and look at again and again. I have albums of relatives and many of our own family from years ago which I will hold onto. But who would want them? I do because it is my family. When we go dressed up for our birthday we had photos taken and all of them capture the time and place. I can think about it for days and wish those days back. I keep them all in albums which give me great enjoyment. If I show them to my kids and grandkids I think they cannot understand nor appreciate them as I do. Maybe one day they will but I doubt it since they don't feel as I do.

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  36. A beautiful and heartfelt response, petite. I love how much you enjoy your family photos. Maybe if you tell your kids and grandkids some of the stories that relate to the photos, they'll have more meaning to them. I've always made a point of doing this with my son, and it never ceases to amaze me how much he remembers, as in "remember the time you did such and such, mom?" Thanks for sharing with us!

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  37. Fascinating subject! I love old photographs - I fon’t even need to know the people. I always want to know what they were thinking when the picture was taken. Congrats on your release, Leslie! Can’t wait to read Wolf Bog!

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    1. Hi, Jenn, nice to meet another lover of old photographs! Like you, I don't need to know who the person in the photograph is to wonder about them, and what they were thinking when the shot was taken--as my main character does in Wolf Bog. Thanks for sharing!

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  38. Great blog, Leslie. My house is filled with old photographs of my ancestors. Like you, I've been surrounded with people who developed photos--my father, my father-in-law, my husband. Remember Brownie cameras?!

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  39. Thanks for your comment, Sharon. A houseful of old ancestral photos is another thing we have in common, as is having various family members who do their own developing. My first husband was also a photographer, mostly of buildings like historic houses, and his photographs were published in books. He also developed his own film in the basement of the house we were living in, but gave it up because he didn't like dealing with all the chemicals involved.

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  40. My memories of "film" photos are how much it cost me to have them developed because I was always taking them of our 5 boys and their various activities. Unfortunately my husband like to remind me that even when he bought me a digital camera, I thought I still had to develop all of the pictures! Now I know better, but I feel like I don't develop enough these days. They are all on my phone or computer. Yes, we still try to get a Christmas photo when the entire family is able to get together from all over the country.

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  41. Thanks for your comment, B Butler. Yes, I can well imagine how expensive it became to have all those photos of your five sons developed. Amusing that even after you got a digital camera you still thought you had to develop all the pictures. I, too, find that they stay on my phone more than I share them the way I used to with a "film" camera.

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