I am the only one in my family who is interested in history. As we were going through my deceased grandmother’s stuff it was easy to determine who would receive all of the photographs, slides, and family records.
I knew that my grandfather, who died 21 years ago, was an amateur photographer. Boy was he. I was presented with box upon box of pictures and slides of everything from flowers to buildings to bugs.
As I went through the photos I was stunned to find a certain one. It was a guy in an old German/Prussian military uniform complete with helmet and tall boots. On his left lapel he had an Iron Cross. I thought about it for a moment and set it aside, in a special pile of shots that meant something more to me than the others. I hope to present some of these shots here after I get a scanner.
Anyway, this photo was a person I knew, but I just couldn’t place him. After a while and after finding a few more photos that were labeled I figured out who it was. It was my grandfather’s step-father. My grandfather’s dad died in WW1 (my grandfather was 2 at the time) and his mother re-married to the gentleman in the photo. It is very cool to a historian like myself to know that I have an Iron Cross in the family, even if it isn’t blood relation. What I would give to have that medal. I have no idea where it ended up.
As I was thinking about this, I had a rather disturbing thought. In this country we are very used to taking digital photographs. These are saved on laptops, cds, and other forms of storage. But technology moves forward fast. We don’t have 3.5 floppys or zip drives anymore and I assume that thumb drives, cds and other forms of storage will pass us by as well. I wonder if America will become a country without a photographical record eventually. The days of handing armfulls of photographs to the next generation may be coming to an end, and I think that is sad.