Friday, July 7, 2017


Whenever I see one of those old visual prompts on Sepia Saturday, I know exactly where to go; I grab a cup of coffee and head up the stairs to the boxes of family memorabilia I’ve tucked away in a closet up there.
There’s all kinds of stuff packed into three liquor cartons (nothing sacred in this family!): letters, cards, programs and playlists; newspapers and report cards; sports awards, old house keys, maps, photographs…
          …and my grandfather’s very first photo album!

It’s about 5”x7” and has gray paper pages gathered and sewn in signatures of five inside a black leather cover. The paper label in the back says “Ward’s Flexible Albums,” but there’s not a hint as to when or where it was manufactured; my best guess is Boston, but I am not certain.
Inside, there are shots of my grandfather and his younger brothers (Richard, Allen, Prescott, Howard) and his sister (Margaret). They’re summertime shots, mostly, taken in East Boothbay, Maine, where the family spent July and August out of the city heat in the early 1900s.

These are two of my favorites: my grandfather (Gardner) is standing on the rocks and one of his brothers (Allen, I think) is twisting on the board (and that board looks like a situation of child endangerment to me); another is in the water, but I don’t know which one.

But look at the bathing suits!

My grandfather told me once that his bathing suit was the most uncomfortable thing he ever wore—said it was made partly of wool, and when it got wet, it itched like fury!
That itching was bad enough, but he wasn’t allowed to scratch “in certain places” for fear of offending the ladies…

“So it was swim and itch,” he said, grinning. “Swim and itch!”