Friday, November 13, 2015

Who Is This Man??

It happened again! Pretty much just like before. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, click HERE to read about the first time. So here's how it played out the past two days, this time on my side of the family.

See this pretty picture frame?

It's an old one that came to me when my sisters and I emptied our parents' house last year.

It hung in the dining room, over the buffet, for as long as I can remember, and probably longer. As far as I knew, it always held this Currier & Ives scene.

This is actually a piece of heavy fabric. I decided to replace it with one of my photographs, so I took it to the framer's to have it put together properly. These big old frames are so heavy, and I wanted to make sure it was hanging securely on the wall. I dropped it off yesterday morning, shopped til I almost dropped, and picked it up before heading home. Sure enough, along with the frame, which now contained my pretty photo, there was this cardboard folder containing the Currier & Ives scene.

I loaded both in the car for the drive home. It was dark when I arrived, I was tired, and we had an overnight guest that needed supper. Consequently, the frame and cardboard folder lay unattended until this morning. I unwrapped the frame and tried to hang it, but it was too heavy to manage by myself, So I turned my attention to the folder, thinking about what to do with the fabric scene. After pulling it out and looking it over for a minute or two, I turned it over. The fabric had been stretched around something and taped with masking tape, which was coming loose in several places. No wonder; it had been there for decades.

Supposing that the fabric had been stretched around some kind of sturdy paper, I investigated a little further, pulling the tape completely loose on one side. I wondered if there was something on the other side of "paper" form.

Sure enough, there were two pieces of I removed the fabric to find this familiar print.

I've seen this image many times. It must have been very popular in its day. I'm guessing this one came off an old calendar. But underneath it was the real treasure!

Another old portrait! The only thing is, I have no idea who this is! And alas, Mom and Dad are no longer here to ask. To my knowledge, he doesn't resemble anyone on either side of my family. Several years before her health declined, my mother put together an inventory of the antiques and heirlooms in the house, and the entry for the picture frame didn't shed any light on this man's identity:

Since my grandfather bought the frame, it could be that this portrait came with it. If so, that would explain why Mom covered it up.

It's a shame there was no name on it anywhere, just a few numbers on the back:

Unless one of my two aunts knows something about this, I guess this handsome gentleman will remain a mystery. But what fun to discover another old portrait! You just never know what could be hiding behind a picture.  Maybe you should go check your old frames...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

In Honor of Those Who Served

Back in June of 2012, I wrote a post about the two veterans I knew best: my dad and my father-in-law. Both are gone now, and they never saw each other again after that last visit.
In their memory, and in honor of all veterans, I'm sharing that post again.

* * *

Two Old Soldiers

Two old soldiers met today, to sit a spell and visit. They shook hands and greeted one another warmly, glad to have one more opportunity to be together.

Both were young farm boys when they went half way around the world to fight a war. One was headed for the Army's infantry and the other for the medical corps.

Bill was a first sergeant in the 34th Red Bull division, and fought his way from Salerno to Cassino, in Italy, going without a bed, a hot bath, or a hot meal for three months in the fall of 1943.

Bruce was a medic with the 42nd Rainbow division, bandaging up and transporting his wounded buddies across Austria and Germany, and making life or death judgement calls as to whom he could save and whom he could not.

But today, they were just two old widowers in their nineties, sitting on the porch and talking. It puzzled me as to how, when they are both deaf as a post, they could hear each other easily.

They talked about a lot of things: the weather, gardens, family, the War, the President, and how the young people have a lot to learn. They talked about being old, and the challenges they face in simple things, like walking and negotiating stairs, picking up a glass or cup without a spill, and eating spaghetti gracefully with a spoon.

And they talked about how, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, they believe there's no place like home, and nothing better than sleeping in your own bed. When they came home from the War, both men married and raised families, Bill with a career in the Postal Service and Bruce farming land that has been in his family for generations. They didn't know each other until one's youngest son and the other's youngest daughter married each other, but they soon found out that comrades in war make easy friends.

When their visit came to an end and my father and my father-in-law parted company, it was with another firm handshake and the usual pleasantries of taking leave. But the unspoken words hung thick in the air:

"Life is hard for us old soldiers. Hold on. I hope I see you again."

Miss you, Dad.