Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ancestor Images

I admit that I am particularly fond of old family photographs.  A photograph somehow makes my unknown relatives more real. . . their relationships, their homes, gardens, and taste in clothing all jump off the paper (but more often the computer screen) and burrow their way into my heart.  I often find myself stubbornly peering into the face of an unidentified relative as if I expect them to speak up.

I have photos that have been passed down to me, photos that have been generously shared with me, photos from newspaper articles, and discovered on the internet.  I even have a mugshot from Leavenworth federal prison.    But as I was walking through my bedroom the other day, I noticed one of my favorite trio of images of my children.  They are silhouettes that were cut one summer day in August at the Amish Acres Craft Festival in Nappanee, Indiana.

My oldest son Scott was shirtless on that hot summer day. His cowlick visible

My daughter Wendy wearing her hair in the braids she wore most days
Paul, my youngest

The silhouettes were done with my children standing sideways in front of the artist as she stared at them for a few moments, then looked down at the paper as she cut.  No light projecting their shadow onto the paper, just the practiced eye and skill of the artist.  She caught their image perfectly. . . for only $3 each.

For a number of years, I was a vendor at this and other craft shows in the region, but my children loved Amish Acres.  They would help me carry and set up my booth, and then spend hours at the festival when it started . . . occasionally helping me in my booth. They checked out all the other craft booths, reporting on their favorites, they played in the pond, joined the audience for the folk singers or puppet shows, but at closing time they would head over to the homemade ice cream booth for a free cup of ice cream as they cleaned up. 

Do you have silhouettes or alternatives to photos in among your family images?  Perhaps an watercolor portrait, or a caricature drawn by a sidewalk artist on vacation? 


  1. No, I don't. I shudder to think that I would now be ready for the men with the nets if great Grandma Maxie had left me a big honking album full of unlabeled silhouettes...

    I assume you put your children's names somewhere on the back of these precious images...


  2. DearMargel,
    Indeed I do have silhouettes--of my parents from the summer of 1942, when they were falling madly in love. The silhouettes were cut out at Riverview, the same amusement park in which your Aunt Margel and my mom, Lillian, posed in the same mini-car for a stylized background of columns. Mom labeled hers and where they were made. More goodies from my mom's ecstatic diary during their courtship found in posts before and after this one (which you commented on)

    I'm sure you must have those silhouettes labeled--that's what we family history buffs do!

    1. Dee and Linda-
      Yes, they are labeled, but only when I took them out of their frame to scan for this post! Now, I think I will print out this memory of the day to tape on the back as well.

  3. Cute, and what a great reminder! There was a one of my Dad as a little boy - I'll need to find out which member of the family has it now and get a scan :-) Jo

  4. I remembered we have a charcoal painting of me and my sibling in our old house, It really brings out lots of memories.

  5. Very nice, Margel, I remember these! Actually I have some of my three boys somewhere in storage (and regretfully not labeled yet). I had found flat oval frames in copper for them at a flea market. Then I also have the silhouettes of my sister and me, my parents bought as gifts for us at Disneyland when we were 7 and 9 (you can imagine how happy we were with that gift)!
    The images I have in storage that were family members, but not labeled and difficult are daguerreotypes or tintypes.
    Enjoyed this post and the challenge of looking for different clues!