I've started taking this Yesterday & Today scrapbooking class online. For awhile, I have wanted to get more into scrapbooking older photos, and recording stories from my childhood. One of the great things about the class is that it is going to help me do layouts that compare different points in time, and to tie together memories from my various family members' lives. For the class, I've been going through and am starting to scan older photos.
It's an ambitious task.
I have a lot of great photos to work with. I think I've mentioned here before that my grandpa was a semi-professional photographer. He moved out to New England after being newly married to go to photography school for a year in New Haven, thanks to the G.I. Bill. Near the height of McCarthyism and the communist scare, my grandfather benefited from one of our country's largest social welfare programs.
After that adventure, he spent over 30 years working at a bank downtown Flint, Michigan. When not working 9 to 5, he freelanced for the company newsletter and for the Flint Journal. He developed the photos in a
dark room below the stairs in the basement of his small 1950s style ranch.
A couple years ago, this small collection of proof sheets found their way from my parents' house to my place in Boston, and I look at them often.
Each is a fascinating little glimpse into life around the time I was born.
This first collection shows a farmer's market in downtown Flint, as well as a few buildings under construction (oh, how times have changed). There is also a little garden plot, complete with a scarecrow. And the building at the top says "part of the new spirit of Flint".
My grandpa really did love Flint and it's cool to see the hustle and bustle there before a lot of the jobs left. But my guess is that there are a lot of people in Flint right now taking up gardening again.
The next is a series of portraits of my great grandfather, RJ. My grandma, his daughter-in-law, said he was a very hard worker. He and his wife owned a farm where they raised silver foxes, among other things. He also worked at GM back in the heyday. I remember him as he appears here.
I love that my grandpa had him change hats for the shoot, and that they spent time together like this.
This next one... That little baby in a great grandmother's arms is me. It's my maternal line, posed in my favorite spot in my grandparents' house, right under the inset shelves where they kept old photos, records, and thick books about England and automobiles. A classic 4 generations portrait.
I love that buildings were being erected downtown right as I was coming into the world. The photo in the top left corner is my grandpa's office at the bank. I don't remember ever going there, but I know it's his office because there is a picture of my Uncle Mark on top of the cabinet. I wonder if the buildings under construction in 1978 are being used these days.
And this last one. Well, on the bottom left is my first house on Ascot Dr., before the subdivision filled in. There are similar photos of my grandparent's house surrounded by dirt. Both my mother and I were raised in subdivisions on lands once farmed by men like my great grandfather.
The rest of the photos in the last series just amuse me.
Maybe my grandpa was taking photos of a Boy Scouts encampment for the Flint Journal? I really don't know. But I enjoy trying to imagine kids these days spending an afternoon walking a tightrope, swinging 20 feet off the ground, or scaling a barn door-type contraption only to fall onto a folded cot mattress. It's basically a Cowboys and Indians-style boot camp.
Have times really changed that much in 31 years?
There have to be more of these proof sheets stored somewhere. They are beyond fascinating to me. Uncle Mark?