Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Photo Bonanza!

The origins of this story go back to 2019, when my father passed away.  I didn't know what there might be in his estate, but I had told my siblings that I was really interested in only two things:  his racing trophies and his photographs.

My father raced cars (and some motorcycles) everywhere he lived:  New Jersey, Florida, California, Australia, Florida again, Texas.  And he won lots of trophies (although my stepfather informed me that most of the time that's all he won; rarely did the races have any cash prizes).  Daddy talked about getting rid of the trophies a few years before he died, but I made him promise not to, because they're such an important part of his (and therefore our family's) history.  I even got to ask the Archive Lady how best to preserve them!

But this story is about the photographs.  My father used to be kind of a semiprofessional photographer.  He took photos everywhere and of everything.  Lots of family photos, lots of photos of cars, and all sorts of other stuff.  As the family genealogist, I knew I needed those photos to help tell our family story and to find more information about family members.

Due to various things that happened after Daddy died, the photographs ended up going to Texas with my stepbrother, and then to my sister in San Antonio.  I kept asking about them, and at some point she told me that her niece had started scanning them, and that eventually I would get a copy of the scans (and the photos themselves).  I asked a few more times after that and I was always told that the project was still going on.  After a while I stopped asking.

Out of the blue, about a week or so ago, I received an envelope from my sister.  In it was a flash drive, 128 gig!  (The biggest I've seen.)  I asked her if this was indeed the scanning project and was told, "Yes."

I finally had a chance to look at the flash drive a couple of days ago.  OMG!  Something like 6,000 scanned files!  The niece grouped them by whatever storage unit they were in:  a black tote, a can liner box (um, what is that?), a little white box, a U-Haul box.  Files and files and files!

So far I have been able to go through the files from the can liner box.  I have looked at all 1,343 photos.  (Remember, that's only the photos from that one box.)

Along with lots of photos Daddy took — of family members, friends, houses, touristy stuff, TOO MANY CARS — there are also photos of him.  Some have notes from his mother, my grandmother, written on the back.  One has a note from my grandfather (I actually recognized his handwriting).  Photos of him when he was a little bitty baby.  Congratulation cards to my grandmother on his birth.

Photos of my half-sister and her mother when they were in California, living with us!  Photos of my father's parents when they were young!  Photos from when my family lived in Australia!  A genealogist's gold mine!

And I know what I need to do.  Those photos need to be labeled as soon as possible while there's still someone around (that's mostly me!) who actually recognizes people in the photos.  Just like I harp on other people to do.

Like I said, I have gone through one folder so far.  I stayed up all night Sunday, obsessed with finishing that folder, labeling photos with the names of the people in them.  Although I am still trying to figure out how to label umpteen photos of the same car (he did this with more than one car, too).

Just a small sampling:

Me and my brother, about 1964

My half-sister Laurie, maybe about December 1964, with my mother's menorah

My half-sister Laurie and my father, about December 1957

My mother, maybe 1964?

My grandfather holding my father, maybe January 1936 (Grampa's handwriting)

Back row:  my mother and her parents
Front row:  me, my sister, my brother
Australia, circa 1972


  1. Wow, you hit the motherload! Over 6, 000 photos?! It was definitely worth the wait; your niece seemed to have done a fantastic job at scanning them and grouping them! I bet you thought you weren't getting them, after so many attemps, but...! :)

    1. Yup, it's true, I was worried about getting them. But I did tell my sister to thank my niece for all the scanning!

  2. omg, what a treasure!! I am sure you are thrilled to have these and so thankful to your niece!

    1. Indeed I am! I asked my sister to give her niece a big thank you!

  3. Amazing! You will spend many happy hours with those photographs!


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