A Journey Measured Through Family Photos

I started a journey that can be measured as beginning several months ago or several decades ago before I was born, before my mother was born, even before my grandparents were born. I took this journey through two cigar boxes packed full of photos and documents kept together through many years.

The Old Cigar Boxes Were Full of Treasure

I sorted through this collection of family photos, documents and ephemera with my mother this past spring. The cigar boxes had been catch-all boxes of mementos that my grandparents had maintained for decades. Seems that snapshots were just tossed in to keep them all together. The collection then fell to my mother to maintain for many years until we took the time to sit and identify just what she was holding on to.

We spent a cozy afternoon together revisiting family history while my very young son napped. My mother was a valuable resource and was quick to identify people, pinpointing dates with ease, and she kept us both entertained with family stories during the sometimes tedious sorting process. I dutifully documented this flow of valuable historical data as we worked and laughed and enjoyed the time together.

I was pleased that these precious family photos were now being “dusted off” and brought into the light of day again, but just knew that they deserved to be showcased in a unique and special way. After all, we couldn’t remember the last time anyone had even looked at the photos while in those cigar boxes. Once the photos and memorabilia were scanned and organized, I would design a family heritage photo book that would tell the story these cigar boxes had been holding for so many years.

The book would be a journey through time and through my mother’s family, beginning with a handwritten postcard from 1893 announcing my great-grandfather Joseph Francis Brady’s birth and continuing through my grandfather George Brady’s 80th birthday party.    

The journey of this collection of family photos, kept for years in cigar boxes, has resulted in a truly wonderful family heritage book created with my mother. We look forward to sharing the book with my own son who carries the family name Brady as his middle name. 

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The Old Cigar Boxes Were Full of Treasure

Sometimes it takes years to begin to sift through the treasure saved by a loved one.  My grandfather was the final living grandparent. We lost him more than a dozen years ago but it wasn’t until early this year that my mother sorted through the photos and ephemera he collected in two Dutch Masters Special Blunts boxes.  

She was hoping to find another, similar photo of a beloved photo of my great-grandmother Daisy standing next to a classic Cadillac that had become faded and washed out from too many days on the shelf in the bright Arizona sun. Could we find one in these boxes? What else would we find?

The boxes held all the photos and documents my grandparents thought were special but didn’t make it into an album or scrapbook. The pictures spanned their lifetimes from my grandfather at Rockaway Beach, New York as a teenager to them as a retired couple relaxing in Delray Beach, Florida. I found a grocery list handwritten by my grandmother and my grandfather’s Selective Service card from 1945.

Some of best photos are of them as a young couple with wide smiles and tailored clothes.  They met at a tuberculosis sanatorium where my grandfather was a patient and my grandmother was a seamstress. It was several years before he was released and they could get married. Many of these photos come from that period of their lives.

 We found a couple more photos of Daisy posing with her boss’ car and Mom was reminded of stories about friends and cousins as we sorted. She was able to identify many of the faces appearing in the photos and gave me a better idea of when they might have been taken. When we were finished I packed the photos up carefully in my carry-on bag and we made a plan to scan the photos and ephemera. 

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