Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

These two snapshots have been digitally enhanced so you can see the detail better. They are from the Benedicta Trunk album and both were in some other photo album before Ben put them in her own album. The photo on top is of four people in a cemetery. While our modern conventions might make that seem odd, in times past visits to the cemetery were not as moribund as they seem today. Cemeteries were designed to be park-like, encouraging family to reflect on their dear departed and to embrace the reality that is death. They also encouraged people to visit the graves, tend them, and bring family to visit the deceased person, making this photo very realistic of what might have happened. The photo was torn by whomever removed it from its original album, and the tear goes right down the middle of the man in the center.

The second photo is of a woman taking a shirt (?) off a child while another child watches, and a second woman climbs out of a car. The scenery in the background is a large field with a few trees. I imagine this was a family picnic.

8 thoughts on “Why yes, they are in a cemetery

  1. IntenseGuy says:

    The bigger city cemetaries in Philadelphia all had trolly and train stations located near the front gate. I remember my grandmother visiting the departed family… She could take the subway/elevated pratically door-to-door. She placed flowers on anniveraries, Christmas, and memorial day. My grandfather wanted no part of that saying, “They are dead Kid (his nickname for her). They don’t care anymore.”

    I just located my g-greatgrand parents graves this year – some of them have been reinterred up to 3 times! I always visit my grandparent’s graves before Christmas – if nothing else … to tell them they are missed and that I loved them.


  2. In the second photo it looks like the Mom is holding the little ones hat in her mouth..cute photo!

    I tend to take photos in cemeteries too. It is a moment to remember and reflect upon… and record for future generations.. I always try to get the honor guard and the 21 gun salutes at Veterans Funerals:)


  3. Auntie Kat says:

    My Dear Mrs. Marvel,

    Visiting the cemetery is a long standing tradition in the Marvel family. With a trip to New London every Christmas. I think this is a wonderful tradition for the family. One day I aspire to attend this occasion. I recall reading somewhere it was a very Victorian thing to do. Tradition is a lovely thing to keep going.

    With much love,

    Mrs. Caroline Brewer


  4. tony zimnoch says:

    I know that my Polish Family treat Graveyards as a Social Place, which is how it should be.
    Good work with your fine photos.


  5. Alan Burnett says:

    It is the wonderful informality of the images (particularly that second one) which make them so stunning. They just tell so much about the people and the time they live in. Well worth a second post.


  6. Pat says:

    What you say about cemetaries is so true from my experiences with my family of ancestors in PA; I visit there nearly each trip now and there is a nice tree for shade over my grandparent’s grave site. When we buried my aunt in 2009, my uncle, her brother and my last living relative of the clan sat on his chair for a long time; the gravesite is on a hill side and overlooks a lovely parklike setting in that huge cemetary. He said he had picked out that spot for the family because of the sites and he wanted visitors to have shade. There is only one spot left there now, for him when he joins his parents, wife, and sister and her husband.


  7. Karen Sather says:

    As a child I feared cemeteries, all of them…then my sister died when I was 12 and slowly a few more relatives…visits became necessary and now to me I search out cemeteries and the stories, peace and beauty they hold!


  8. Christine says:

    What fine clothing they had in that first photo. Very elegant. These are both wonderful photos. I like the second one because it captures that relaxed candid moment in time.


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