Family photos are not meant to be ephemeral or disposable; they are meant to be enduring keepsakes. Over time, however, people are careless with family photo collections. Memories fade about the people and events depicted, and a loss of meaning accompanies the loss of the people to whom the images were important. The albums and shoeboxes of snapshots end up on garage sale tables and in junkstore bins. I have looked through thousands of such photos over the past few years, but only these three have made it home with me.
Turning the photo over, I found a penciled inscription noting that it was made in nearby Canutillo, Texas in 1949. And, the subject's full name was given; it was an unusual surname, and I had little trouble tracking her down on the web. She was buried in an El Paso veteran's cemetery beside her husband after a long, distinguished career as an educator. I was pleased to have rescued an image that had recorded a moment in a life of dignity and accomplishment.
Aug. 25 1898
People I have shown this photo to sometimes remark that the subject looks rather severe in her demeanor. To me she seems an attractive young woman, perhaps not yet beyond her teen years, and the expression to me seems enigmatic. Her dark outfit does lend a serious note to the portrait. I wonder about the limp, artificial-looking corsage; perhaps it was taken from the photographer's prop box in hopes of enlivening the composition. Surely this was some special occassion; a birthday, graduation or wedding.