Antique and Secondhand shops have always been my favourite places to visit. Whilst apple pie is comfort food for some, these little shops filled to the brim with old memories are the equivalent for me. I love to browse through the crowded forests of cedar, silky-oak and pine tables, cupboards and chairs. I let my eyes wander across shelves arranged with an assortment of bric-a-brac and am mesmerized by the soft glistening jewels kept in glass cases. Whilst I inhale that wonderful musty smell of old, I wonder about the faces that stare at me from their sepia resting places on the walls.
Two years ago whilst wandering through an antique shop in Bendigo, I stumbled upon an entire album of photographs, including wedding photos. The black and white images depicted the life of a family in the 1950’s. It fills me with sadness that these ancestors have become unwanted and discarded like orphans. Perhaps the previous custodian had no living relatives to leave them to? I considered buying the album just so the faces had a place to call home, however I considered the asking price of $70.00 too high.
Many questions went through my head. How did it end up in an antique shop? Who were the people in the photos? Was there no family left to claim them? They were beautiful photographs, better than the average family snaps. Obviously that the album had been someone’s prize possession.
I am so thankful that I have inherited my Great Grandparents’ belongings. What would have happened to them otherwise? The boxes from the house might still be sitting in someone’s shed and then what? Dumped? The dilemma for me is who will want them when I am gone?
A few years ago, I found this poem in a scrapbooking magazine. It provides some food for thought.
The Strangers In The Box
Come, look with me inside this drawer
In this box I’ve often seen
At the pictures, black and white
Faces proud, still and serene.
I wish I knew the people
These strangers in the box
Their names and all their memories
Are lost among the socks.
I wonder what their lives were like,
How did they spend their days?
What about their special times?
I’ll never know their ways.
If only someone would have taken time,
To tell who, what, and when,
Those faces of my heritage
Would come to life again.
Could this become the fate
Of the pictures we take today?
The faces and the memories
Someday to be tossed away.
Make time to save your pictures
Seize the opportunity when it knocks
Or someday you and yours could be
The strangers in the box.
Perhaps it is worth considering who the beneficiary of your precious photos and memories should be. It is far better that they be passed down the family line, than ending up in a dumpster or in secondhand shop. I have been compiling memories for many years. My shelves are brimming with scrapbooks, the fruits of my labours. I would hate to see them discarded when I am no longer here to protect them from such a fate. It is so important that our memories are kept alive. Otherwise, what is the point of our lives at all?