Keen on your family history, then what a marvel ancient photography can turn out to be. After a few years, memory from the happenings of youth can be distorted by time, and seemingly become rather unreliable.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
Watch the birdie ... Here were forebears photographed about 110 years ago. It was amazing to see my Dad as a baby, and his father as a young man, plus mother (a favourite grandparent) and his grandparents.
But photography! Family snaps could be Photoshopped, of course, and change reality more than somewhat, but what pleasure - and surprise - when you dig out original Box Brownie-type records of family history!

There’s no escaping reality then.

Some of the really historical shots of my family went up in smoke in Second World War bombing in Southampton.

However, ancient photos of family members who lived in the countryside had a much greater chance of surviving.

Sepia-toned shots

Which is where a portrait – a family snap, really – that turned up this week had lived its early years.

You can keep family trees and enjoy the ready history they reveal. But to see, to hold, sepia-toned shots of family ancients taken when they were alive can be astonishing.

Image of part of  a Sailing to Purgatory webpage to illustrate the article.
With a great grandchild ... And this is the good man about 84 years later celebrating a rather grander birthday.
This week I found on the computer a photograph and immediately assumed it was a snap of paternal grandparents with their son, my father, and one of my brothers at the toddler stage.

It really felt amazing to go back in the years so spontaneously. Here I was entranced by a pic that must be, well, about eighty years old.

It felt astonishing, close to unbelievable, that some magical invention recorded their appearance from all that time ago and here it was on my screen.

‘Hello, Dad! Amazing to see you, Grandparents.’

A really ancient soul

And a really ancient soul in the photo, I thought, must be my grandfather’s mother who must have left the world quite a few some years before I arrived.

There was disappointment, though. I could see, there was no escaping, how memory had let me down. How different they looked in reality from the portraits held by memory.

I told my pleasure of it a younger brother, Chris, as he enjoys summer at his home in Gore, New Zealand. His prompt reply pointed out a rather notable oversight. Not my grandfather, he corrected. But my great-grandfather.

The fellow I took to be my father was actually his father. And the toddler was my father, born in 1909, five years before the First World War. Could it really be?

The appearance of forebears

Can one see – could l see - family faces and study and wonder over appearance of forebears more than a century after they watched for the birdie? It feels almost a miracle that we can.

None in the portrait is alive today, of course.

My father died in the first year of my completely unjust imprisonment. Thankfully, the toddler in that ancient pic, who went on for 90 years more, didn’t learn of the crazy allegation by a corrupt government agency. I continue the determination to clear my name.

Thanks very much for visiting the mostly Tuesday and Thursday blogs for my adventure book, Sailing to Purgatory, which are introduced each time on Facebook Facebook dot com/Sailingtopurgatory and on Blogger,

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The blogs for Sailing to Purgatory are introduced on Facebook and Blogger.