I would have liked my grandfathers.
Recently I came upon a number of photographs which I always wished my family had, but never knew about. I found thousands of photographs, most of which were taken in the 50s and 60. However, I found some from the 30s and 20s when my grandparents were toddlers.
I spent two entire days sorting out photos from both sides of the family. I sorted them into groups based on the quality of the photograph. There must have been a couple thousand photographs in total. I narrowed down the pile to around 150 photographs. From there I began laying out the photos on my dining room table. I thought about how I would present these photos. I felt that an album would be intimate, but knowing my family, the album would be looked at once and then forgotten. I feel that hanging a photo on a wall causes the viewer to have a relationship with the photograph. It becomes a permanent part of the viewers universe.
On the dining room table I began laying them out as I would imagine they would appear on a wall. Subconscious patterns began to take shape. Soon I was able to make those patterns visual. In one of the most obvious patterns, I placed two photographs of my grandfathers together.
Above on the right my maternal grandfather, Seymour Fader poses in front of Trocadéro in Paris after the end of World War II in 1945. Throughout his army service he was stationed in France, Germany and Italy. My paternal grandfather on the left, Erwin Krule served for the United States Air Force around the time of the Korean War.
Until recently, I had only seen photos of my grandfathers when they were much older. Aside from a few memories of my maternal grandfather, I never really knew either of them (Erwin died long before I was born, Seymour died when I was 7).
By having this large collection of photographs I understood a lot about familial dynamics. It was amazing to see five generations of Krule/Faders. I learned that while families appear different, often they are similar in the significant aspects. Including the relationship one has with their parents.
When looking at these photographs I also thought a lot about what the subjects were thinking when the photograph was being taken. Did they know their grand, great grand or even great-great grandson would eventually be seing this? Why did they decide to take that photograph in the first place? Either way, I am happy they did.