Marietta Schirf was my dad’s youngest sister. He said he didn’t know how she snuck into the Armed Forces because he was sure she didn’t meet the minimum height requirement.
At a 1980s July 4th concert on Capitol Hill, E. G. Marshall officiating, veterans by branch were asked to stand up. When the turn came for the Air Force, she stood and whooped, to the surprise of our neighbors on the grass. I asked why Air Force, and she answered she’d been in the Army Air Corps. That’s the first I’d heard that.
Aunt Marietta died in the mid-90s. How she would have appreciated the resources of the internet. She once took me to the Library of Congress to look up articles on sugalite.
I will have to look up Front and Center. On the internet.
I can date only a couple of my brother Virgil’s school photos, but tried to arrange them by apparent (to me) age. I wasn’t born until Virgil was almost eight years old, and I don’t remember much before kindergarten (except, I think, climbing out of and dangling from my crib, giving my mother heart palpitations when she found me). My first day of kindergarten was his first day of eighth grade.
I’ve seen vintage photos and postcards for sale, and even bought a few myself, such as postcards of Starved Rock State Park.
I understand wanting postcards, souvenirs of places that have disappeared, changed, or survived — time capsules of a not-too-distant, recognizable past.
It’s harder for me to understand buying mundane photos of regular people the buyer never knew. Do they hope the photos will turn out to be valuable? Do they want to make up stories about the unknown, deceased-these-many-years people? Do they pretend strangers are their own family members, giving them names and histories? Or do they simply want to add old photos to their decor for a vintage look?
I was thinking about this when going through two shoeboxes of family photos. I’d finally found the perfect scanner for small photos (e.g., 4” x 6”). Many of my oldest photos are smaller. Some have typewritten captions on the back. I suspect these were added by Aunt Marietta, who after World War II became an executive assistant with the Atomic Energy Commission, later the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I don’t think anyone else would have had access to a typewriter.
Some have handwritten captions. Many aren’t labeled — no subject, location, or date. Dad labeled most of his photos, at least later. I think these random, unlabeled photos frustrated him — even though he knew most of the subjects. I wonder what a photo buyer would make of them?
I don’t know what to make of some of them myself. There’s a little blonde girl who is not the daughter of my mother’s best friend. (She agreed it’s not her.) There are a boy and a girl. The boy could be my brother, but he doesn’t recognize the girl. two of my aunts are posed with a taller man. I can only guess he may have been Harold, a brother had had epilepsy and died before he reached 21.
I have two shoe boxes and a suitcase of my dad’s photos and a lot of scanning to do of the people photos. When he moved to Pennsylvania to be closer to family, he threatened to throw out every photo. Panicked, I hastily communicated he was not to toss a single photo, and I would take them. I was shocked, but he was in a purging mood. Who knows? A buyer may have wanted them.
All this is a long way of saying to expect to see small vintage photos posted here once in a while, along with anything I know and think about them.
Today is the 100th anniversary of my mother’s birth. I discovered this delightful clipping about a hike to a farm and a picnic with storytelling under a big tree she helped to organize. It could be straight out of Anne of Green Gables.
I love finding these blurbs. This and others are giving me new insight into my parents’ early lives pre-me.
A few years ago I did a search on my dad’s name and found an old auction for V-Mail (“Greetings from Britain”) from Private Ralph Schirf. I hadn’t known about the auction, long since over, in time to bid. Here are the clues that it’s from my dad:
Ralph Schirf is a unique name. Schirf is rare, and we’re all related. Ralph Schirf is one of a kind.
He was from the Altoona, Pennsylvania, area.
He served as a private in the Army Air Forces during WWII in England (artillery, I believe, although he didn’t talk about it). He was honorably discharged as a corporal.
That’s his block printing.
His beloved sister Marjorie married a Way (Ellis G. in the obituary of one of their children).
He once signed a birthday card to me “Father Ralph.” It’s not a stretch to imagine him signing “Brother Ralph” to his sister.
I would love if the buyer found this post and offered to sell me Dad’s V-Mail, but in lieu of the physical pieces I’ll have to be content with small digital photos.