Thursday, March 3, 2016

Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday is going to accomplish two things:
1. Scan my older photos to preserve them
2. Take a trip down memory lane
An old photo, a little history, a little perspective on days gone by, I hope you enjoy.

Christmas 1969 - Casteau, Belgium

I seem to have become the keeper of the family photos. When Mum and Dad moved from Washington to England in the 1980s, they left quite a few things in my keeping, things that just stayed with me. I need to organize everything - right now I can think of at least four different locations where photos can be found! I have, however, one box that's called Old Misc and I thought I'd share a few memories with you.

This is Christmas 1969. Dad was stationed at the SHAPE Headquarters in Mons, Belgium and we lived across the street in the international military housing at Casteau. It was very international - a multi-service, multi-nation community. Our next door neighbors were German, across the street they were Dutch, next door but one were American Air Force, you could just go down the street and find a veritable United Nations. We were two hours from the coast (the English Channel) so we often had members of Mum's family to visit. This Christmas, Mum's mum, aunt, and sister joined us for the holiday. On the left of the photo is Mum's sister Grace (back), affectionately known as Dado, and Mum's mum Elizabeth, whom we always called Ninny. On the right is Mum, Sylvia (back), and her aunt Grace, who was always Auntie Grace. Mum's family was from Manchester, Salford and Prestwich to be exact, and they had all worked for years in the garment industy, making coats mainly. I can always remember that whenever we visited Auntie Grace, we always came home with a new coat. Where she got them all, I have no idea. I think they must have been seconds although they certainly never looked like it.

I loved these ladies dearly. They all enjoyed a tipple, although Mum would never admit to it, and both Dado and Auntie Grace would frequently resort to a typically English "Bloody Hell!" when there was something they didn't like or agree with! Ninny liked to play cards, but she cheated mercilessly. Of course, we would always pretend she had just made a mistake, and point out that she couldn't pick up from the deck and the discard pile at the same time!

There are a few things in this picture that make me very nostalgic. That's my stocking on the mantle (P.G. = Pamela Gail) and the candelabra over to the left is from a silver tea and coffee service that Mum and Dad bought for me when I was very small. It is still in my china cabinet. The Santa sleigh and reindeer above the mantle were always part of our Christmas decorations; sadly, I don't know what happened to them. And, of course, the fireplace. We always had a fireplace - Mum said a house was not a home without a fire. Even though we couldn't have a real wood or coal fire, we always had something like this to make the room cheery and welcoming.

I'm never sad when I go through old pictures as the memories that come flooding back are always happy ones. I just wish I had taken more time to ask questions and record answers. Ninny and Auntie Grace lived through World War I and II, and Dado and Mum, World War II - in England, right in the middle of it all. It wasn't until I was an adult that I really began to understand the value of oral history, the memories of those who had lived through times we could barely begin to comprehend. I urge you, if you have older relatives, to ask them about their life experiences. It's amazing what we can learn from them.


  1. Lovely photo and story. It's so interesting to see familiar items we have in old photos; such a connection with the past!

  2. I so need to scan old photos. I love seeing still-loved household items and decorations in old photos. It helps me remember that other hands touched them, dusted them, cared for them. Other eyes rested on them, and other hearts held a fondness for them.

    1. I had to take a magnifying class to a couple of other shots taken the same night to make out the details and it was so neat to see images of things I remember from my childhood.