Memories Stirred by Old Family Photos

This is a quick mid-week post on memories.

My husband has scanned about 1200 old family photos that were taken on slide film. We’ve had a great time looking at relatives, some of whom we knew, and some we didn’t, from our past and extended families.

My husband’s family had many photos of get together with cousins, Aunts, Uncles, and exchange students. My family had photos of grandparents, my parents, my sister and I. Both sets of slides had family wedding photos that must have been from the same era, for the bridesmaids’ dresses in each were Aqua.

There were several prominent themes in the photos.


One was cigarettes.  This nasty, but popular, habit was mostly visible in photos of my family.  One of my grandfather’s was a chain smoker.   And, as might be expected, he died too early from lung cancer.  I especially remember a yellow haze lingering near the ceiling of grandpa’s living room.  Regardless, I loved him dearly.

My parents, both smokers, at one point in their younger lives, can be seen with the slim white sticks held at shoulder height as they looked off into the distance at family social gatherings. But, by the time I was 12, both my parents had quit cigarettes.  And, they both quit cold turkey! Successfully! I do remember my mom having a health scare, however. This immediately resulted in her requesting my Dad to bring her a pack of cigarettes. Once the scare was known as just that, a scare, she again quit without any difficulty! Just stopped! I still marvel at their capability to quickly stop a habit that haunts so many other people as they try to give it up.

Old Family Photo of Niagara Falls.

Another prominent theme in the family photos was a place. Niagara Falls.  Living in Western New York, getting to “The Falls,” as they are known locally, is easy. The world famous waterfall is less than a 45 minute drive from where my husband grew up. Visits to The Falls usually constituted a border crossing because the Canadian side has a much nicer view.

There are many ways to get to Niagara Falls from the surrounding towns and cities, but if you go to the Canadian side, you must cross the Niagara River. The Peace Bridge, The Rainbow Bridge, and the Lewiston Bridge can all take you there. Factors considered about which border crossing to use were traffic, point of departure, aesthetic views on the trip, and where you wanted to end up and park once you had arrived. My husband’s family most often crossed over by using The Rainbow Bridge.  There were customs agents at all of the bridges, so that was not considered. You were stopped and asked the purpose of your visit no matter where you crossed. Some agents were nice, and some were menacing, just like people are in real life. It’s been several years since we crossed into Canada over one of those bridges, but it is well worth the inconvenience of customs.

Of course, there were photos of halloween costumes, birthday parties, and Christmas morning surprises. Any collection of old photos would have these. But, seeing my parents as young, new parents, and the family resemblances that now exist were heartwarming. My husband enjoyed the memories recovered for him as well and plans to share the those memories with his extended family.


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