Every Picture Tells A Story by
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(289 Stories)

Prompted By Group Photos

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My cousin recently sent me this picture, which I had never seen before, taken around 1925.

My cousin recently sent me this picture, which I had never seen before. It must have been taken around 1925 or so. When I commented that it had green streaks on it, and asked if it was the original, she said it was a photo of a xerox of the original, and that she has the original somewhere safe (but I have a feeling she doesn’t know where that safe place is).

I love looking at this picture. In the back row, perhaps kneeling, is my grandfather and my grandmother holding my mother, who must have been about four years old. In the front row, seated, is my aunt Daisy, about nine years old, then my grandfather’s two brothers, Abe and Pinky, on either side of Pinky’s wife Pauline, and my grandmother’s brother Sam on the right. They are obviously at the beach somewhere. And although none of the men are smiling, they still look like they are having a good time.

I actually remember meeting all three of those uncles many decades later. We went to visit Sam and his wife Rose somewhere in Brooklyn or the Bronx (it seemed like the other side of the moon to me, coming all the way from New Jersey). Abe and Pinky came to our house several times to visit my grandfather, and they all went to Workmen’s Circle meetings together. (For more about my grandparents, and Workmen’s Circle, see Those Were the Days, My Friend.)

Another writer, in describing a group photo, said “It gives the lie to any assertion that group photographs, as a genre, are stiff or staid or a matter of meaningless formality.” My response to that is that no such assertion has been made here at Retrospect, if indeed it has been made anywhere. Certainly we would not have chosen this prompt if we felt that way about group photos. Indeed, far from being meaningless, as Rod Stewart tells us, every picture tells a story.

Profile photo of Suzy Suzy


Characterizations: funny, moving, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. Suzy, how lucky for you to have this family photo with your four-year-old mother.

    My guess – they’re at the beach in Far Rockaway!

  2. John Shutkin says:

    I’m so glad that you received this photo, Suzy. As I mentioned previously, it is particularly exciting to find these images of our family that pre-date our own lives, especially when filled with the younger versions (obviously) of people we will get to know — and, hopefully, love — many years later.

    As you note, your song title title is particularly meaningful in this context, especially as we try to figure out a story that was being told before we were even born. And, of course, it’s also another fun earworm.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Wonderful photo, Suzy! Since we know your mother and Aunt Daisy so well, it is great fun to see them as children and here, relaxing at the beach with their parents and aunts and uncles. As you know, I, too, greatly value family photos, whether staged or just informal, like this one. I agree, every picture tells a story. This is a happy get-together and brings a smile to all who see it, particularly since it is 14 degrees here at the moment, with a nor’easter on the way! Seeing your family smiling at the beach warms me through and through.

  4. You had me at “Abe and Pinky.” Not only the sepia tones and the fashions but even the names transport a reader back to an earlier time. The stories behind this group photo are captivating.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    I love that you shared the photo your cousin sent you, Suzy. It is fascinating to see our grandparents, parents, and other relatives through a different lens. Every picture reveals something about life in the past and the people assembled in it. While we may have lost the details, or even some of the names, these pictures capture special moments.

  6. A picture is truly worth 1,000 (or more) words.

  7. Susan Bennet says:

    I’ll echo Dale, Suzy, except for me it was “Pinky and Pauline.” How cute is that.
    I have similar 1920s “beach” photos of family that touch my heart. This prompt reminds me that it’s my responsibility to pass along these images (and stories) of these relatives caught in time. Thank you for sharing your handsome family photo. And many thanks to the inventor of photography! (Would that be Mssr. Daguerre?)

  8. Dave Ventre says:

    It took me a minute to realize what was bothering me about that photo. The people (including the small standing figure in the upper left) are upright but the houses are tilted. I am guessing it was on a bit of a hill!

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