Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The envelope with pictures of my dad

When I was perhaps twelve, my dad and I were in a discussion, subject no longer recalled. My dad said he had something in his trunk that would illustrate the subject. We went to the bedroom off the living room and he pulled a grey, wooden trunk from the closet.

The bedroom was my brothers', and although I had prowled every other closet and drawer of the house, this was new to me. I never messed around in "there". The trunk had been my dad's when he was a seaman, he explained. I knew all about Sparks and his adventures, and waited to see what he was after.

He handed me an envelope of pictures and kept on digging. The envelope was for some other purpose, and pretty full. I asked to look at them and he said I could. The first out the the envelope:


That's my dad on the right. I was shocked. I turned it for my dad to see. He snatched the picture and the envelope, put the trunk away and that was the end. I never saw the picture again until about five years ago, when my brother-in-law was sorting out my brother's accumulation out in the barn. There was the very same envelope, and in my dad's handwriting, my name.

That's Uncle Taps on the left, my dad's mother's youngest brother, at their first communion, twelve years old. My dad broke bitterly and completely with the church, which may account for his reaction to the picture. I date that picture 1918 or 1919, five years before dad left home for the Army.


My dad on a picture postcard mailed September 28, 1907, so he was thirteen months.


This picture of our dad and Uncle Bill is a favorite. I date it about 1910, when dad was three. Mom said dad always looked like an old man in his young pictures. You judge.


Dad is bottom row, left, shirt and tie. The picture is dated 1912, so he is five years old, and first year of school.


Primary school, 1913. Dad is in the white shirt and tie, back row, teacher's end. Dad is six.


I cannot identify any of the girls in this photo. Dad has the cap, and I guess it's also 1913, six years old.


And a picture of my dad from the late forties, early fifties, just for comparison. Dad had a very difficult childhood; pictures ended at that first communion picture. He mostly grew up in the Children's Home, until he reached age 17. One week later, he was enlisted in the Army.






36 comments:

  1. Sorry he had a hard life early on.

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  2. That sounds like a hard life early on and enlisting was a way forward for him, I hope.

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  3. Times were extremely hard in those years. My father-in-law spent most of his life in Father Flanagan's Home for Boys until he was old enough to enlist in the army. Very few photos of him or the family. The same is true of my family--they came from rural farm country and photos weren't a part of their life.

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  4. Such cool photos. Living in the children's home must have been rough. I treasure photos of my parents and don't have any of grandparents, uncles, and aunts. Only have a few of my sisters and brother.

    Love,
    Janie

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  5. Your photos are treasures, i love them and your little Dad. When he was six, with the flock of girls, the photo landed side by side with Joe Hill's on your side bar, and i swore they were the dame person. Bless his little boy heart, so sorry for his tough life, I just want to hug him.

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  6. Lots of old photos. Why would he mostly grow up in a children's home when there was family?

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    1. His father went west, changed his name, didn't return except in a coffin. His mother's people were loaded down with too many Catholic children to support and couldn't take in five more. His mother had no job. Dad kept the children together as best he could; fed them oatmeal for breakfast from his grandmother, and coffee and bread for supper. And more and more and more. He skipped a lot of school. His brother went to an institution, two sisters were taken in by relatives, his other sister stayed at the home, he went to the army. This was in the twenties, kids lose on the streets were ignored, mostly. He aged out of the home at 16.

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  7. What a treasure you have there. I hope you have written down what you know about your family and give it to one of your grandchildren. They might not be interested now but they will when they are older.

    Our parents generation went thru two World Wars, the Spanish flu, the dust bowl, and the Great Depression and the Korean War. Their lives were hard but they seldom, if ever, complained.

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  8. Thanks for sharing these Joanne. I had the vibe he had been abused by the RCs, how terrible for him. I hope his latter years were happier. He does look like an old soul when he was young.

    XO
    WWW

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  9. He sure liked to wear ties in his younger days!!

    betty

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  10. I really enjoyed seeing these pictures Joanne. How wonderful that you have them. It sounds like your Dad wanted them to go to you. He sure had a hard life but he accomplished a lot for a young boy to care for his siblings. That was a hard time period. My mother was born in 1922 and lost her Dad when she was five. It made life hard but her Mother had family that helped.

    Pictures like that are precious and are a wonderful thing to pass down in the family. I agree with Arleen, you should write down all your memories about your family. I have a few pages of memories that my grandmother wrote down and I would not trade those for anything. Thanks for sharing your very special pictures!

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  11. Precious, precious memories. I love that while he snatched the photos out of your hand and put the trunk away he also put your name on the front - for later.
    I suspect that many of our parents knew hard times. And most of the stories died with them.

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  12. Hari OM
    WE have yet to discover if there are any early photos of our dad... mostly it seems to be items from when he was courting mum and later. So glad these found their way back to you, Joanne. YAM xx

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  13. Always fascinating to discover early family photos. Was your dad one of twins? The two boys look identical in that communion photo

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    1. The boy on the left is uncle to the boy on the right.

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    2. They are the same age; months apart.

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  14. I, too, have been busy lately discovering old pictures of my grandmother from those years. On the one hand it is fascinating on the other hand it is sad to know how hard their lives have been.

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  15. I have no photos of either my Mother or Father before their marriage - I wish I had.

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  16. Your dad was 6 years older than mine. He looks stoic and accepting of his difficult young life. How wonderful to have these photos.

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  17. How wonderful to have the pictures. A sad life for your father, though. I do hope you keep notes with the photos, so as to preserve the family story.

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  18. What great photos. How great it is you have them to share with the grandkids and generations to follow.

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  19. I'm glad he marked that envelope for you.

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  20. These pictures break my heart. Yes, your father was an old man from the start. Did he ever have joy? Did he smile later on? We have no idea how much easier we have it now, do we?

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  21. Your discovery will help to fill in the holes in your Dad's life and in so doing add to your life.

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  22. Your dad's looks didn't change too much from small child to adult. Old pictures are so good as they make lives more real. I look at old pictures of my dad and wonder - what was he thinking/doing/wishing.

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  23. Touching pictures of your father. Amazing he survived and thrived to have a family of his own. Thanks for sharing.

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  24. It is sad to learn that your father had such a bad time of his earlier life. I would have certainly known him from those baby pictures. His looks never changed.

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  25. Precious photos to have now. Sorry to hear your Dad's youth was so difficult.

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  26. Amazing photos and history. I learned something today, I had no idea children in that era were treated with so little regard.

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  27. Thank you for sharing the family photos of your Dad. I especially love the one showing him as a three-year-old.

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  28. Your Dad was a remarkable man, coming from a hard childhood, entering the Army and making a good life. He also knew you should have these photos. Family history and photos are important heirlooms for future generations.

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  29. previous generations struggled way more and suffered such hardship and today people revolt because they are asked to wear a mask to keep themselves and others safe. I can't imagine what it must have been like to have your father to abandon the family and your mother to put you in an institution.

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  30. It sounds like he had a very rough life. We don't realize how lucky we are sometimes. Their hardships were enormous and any safety net didn't exist. I thought the baby looked like a little old man. Your dad does look solemn though. I don't blame him.

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  31. How lucky you are to have these pictures. It really drives home the importance of labeling our pictures. We all recognize the people in our pictures, but years from now, someone might be interested in the pictures who will have no idea who the people are.

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