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The Strangers in the Box

After reading Jim Taylor’s delightful blog post last week (Details) I was reminded of an old poem entitled The Strangers in the Box. This poem, which I read after my mother’s death, made me feel remiss that I hadn’t spent time with my Mom identifying the “strangers” (to me) in her box of pictures. The process of reviewing all her old photographs would have given her so much pleasure, and it would have provided me with further documentation of my parents’ lives.

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.

Author: Pam Harazim

Will you be leaving strangers in a box, or on your computer? Do you identify your photographs? Have you organized the old photos, or the thousands of digital images that one now amasses? Could you brighten a senior’s day by listening while s/he tells you personal memories?

These thoughts remind me of fellow blogger Richard Gibbons who told us of one of his favourite Christmas presents — a personal family history scrapbook from his sister Sharon.

Remember, when you’re taking photographs, what Jim Taylor told us: show (and document) “the surroundings, the environment, the context. It may prove more valuable to future generations than a row of stony faces in black suits. Even if the faces have names. Look for the telling details. They tell the story ….

Note: Family histories are very valuable to local museums and archives. If you have historical photographs, documents and family histories, consider donating them to the Lake Country Museum & Archives.


1 Comment

  • I really like that poem too. it is an interesting issue. sometimes I think we overdocument these days but. we store everything on the internet and how available will that be in the future? already, much of what I had saved on earlier computers is long gone and non retrievable

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