Faithful Living: Lessons found in old photos

A photograph is usually looked at -- seldom looked into.

--Ansel Adams

I have always valued the family photos I’ve collected throughout the years, and I’m particularly excited about a new software program that will enable me to produce digital scrapbook pages. There is also a digital scrapbook world online with design resources so lovely I feel a huge sense of relief: others can use their natural talents to create pages and I can scan and insert my photos. Additionally, I can hit print four times and quickly make copies for my three kids. I’m one happy camper.

One of my favorite old photos shows my maternal grandmother in her late 20s. She and a friend are standing beside two handsome young men. They are dressed to the nines, have stopped in the midst of a date to pose beside their Model T, and all are holding shotguns, of all things. It looks as if they had been target shooting in their Sunday best.

I can only speculate, for I never heard stories about this or any other photos depicting the activities of her youth. I got the impression that there were parts of her life she tucked away, just for herself. She was a caring and engaged grandmother to be sure. But what I see in that photo was a confident and sassy young woman who decades later matured into a nurturing grandmother. There was a private side to her life that is revealed only today in photos.

Although gone, she teaches me even now. The revelations are noteworthy, surprising. I have learned, for example, that early on fashion was terribly important to her. She became a milliner and seamstress, working in a fabric store and sewing for others while providing her own livelihood.

During this era my grandmother was single and living at home to care for her ailing mother. It was also during this period in her life that she flew in an airplane with the famous barn stormer, Wiley Post, when he flew into towns across the United States offering the general public plane rides.

She worked quite some time to save enough money for her ride and it’s a story I intend to share using my scrapbooking program. I know it will honor her youthful spirit and hopefully encourage my family, even though the world my grandmother lived in differs dramatically from theirs today.

There are, of course, many other photos and stories attached to those images. Some of the photos capture joy. Some perseverance. Some youthful exuberance. There are stories of hardship and mistakes, and the results of both can sometimes be detected on the faces of those photographed.

Above the particulars and the sometimes questionable photo quality, messages of strength and faith appear as well. I see people doing the best they could with what they had to work with. Some pictured are strangers. But I am learning that you can learn from people you will never personally know. Their stories remain to help me and my family live better lives.

Reach Joan Bay Klope at

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