chairdog2In my ongoing (and somewhat foiled, at this point) attempts at tracing my genealogy, I’ve gone back through my dad’s old family photos (mostly from 1930-1960), which turned up a few years ago. At the time, they were interesting, but they were a bit like looking at someone else’s pictures. I recognized my grandparents and my dad, but I not only didn’t recognize most of the subjects — I also felt no connection to them.

Now, at least, I can put faces to the names on the old Census forms. But even my dad can’t identify some of the people. And so, they’ll remain strangers.

(First-time visitors to the apartment often ask if all the old group portraits hanging on the walls are of family. They’re not. They’ve been picked up at tag sales, flea markets, and junk shops. It’s always struck me as odd that folks would get rid of their family photos, but perhaps it’s because the faces were as unfamiliar to them as my family’s photos are to me. But some people, like me, enjoy looking at photos of strangers.)

About this photo (click to enlarge it [whoops, originally uploaded a flipped version]): This here is my great-grandmother’s second husband (of three, total) and their dog. It was taken on the back porch of the house my family lived in in Windsor Terrace. Even though it has little resonance for me on a personal level (never met that guy, never met that dog, and never been to that house), I think it’s the most unintentionally brilliant photo in any of the family albums. Why is the dog sitting on the chair? Why is he posing for a photo?

And why is Tom Waits standing in the doorway?

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