Friday, March 20, 2015

Sepia Saturday: A Scrapbook Finds a Home

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.




This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt reminds me of the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”  In this case, you can lead me to the prompt, but you can’t make me follow it.  (There is some water, however.)


Iceberg Thule, Greenland 1946-47  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Icebergs. Rugged terrain blanketed in snow. Inuit people paddling in kayaks. The moon shining down on a black ocean. 

Inuit in kayaks Thule, Greenland 1947 http://jollettetc.blogspot.com









Night in Thule, Greenland 1947 http://jollettetc.blogspot.com














Daddy's scrapbook 1946-47

Memories from a 19-year old boy’s year on the cutter Eastwind supplying military bases in Thule, Greenland are gathered carefully in a leather-bound scrapbook.

This scrapbook has been working overtime the past several weeks as photos of my father’s shipmates have been the focus of a series I call “Men of the Eastwind.” While they have not been successful at coaxing family members to step forward and share their stories, a better opportunity has come along.

One reader named Intense Guy sent me a link to the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport, Massachusetts because of its collection of Coast Guard memorabilia. He suggested maybe there would be some information there, particularly since the annual Eastwind reunions are held at the museum. 

But the museum did not have the names of servicemen. Instead they had an offer. The curator and Executive Director expressed interest in taking the scrapbook if I wished to donate it. They viewed the collection of photos as part of the Coast Guard’s post-World War II history. Apparently they actually looked at my blog because the curator commented on my dad’s “artistic eye.”

Historic value. Wow. I wish I could say something profound, but all I can I say is, “Wow.” Sixty-nine years ago, my father was a high school graduate with his eye on a G.I. Bill that would fund a college education. Now a collection of amateur photos taken by a young sailor with a little time on his hands could be on display, showing the world what it was like to be in the Coast Guard in Greenland in 1946-47.

Thule, Greenland 1946-47 http://jollettetc.blogspot.comMy sister and I discussed whether to keep the scrapbook for family or pass it on. It didn’t take long to conclude that Daddy would think donating the scrapbook to the museum would be absolutely the coolest thing ever. I’ve scanned the most interesting photos. Daddy appears in only about five, and really – how many pictures of icebergs does anyone need? 

As I write this, the scrapbook is on its way to the Custom House Maritime Museum in Newburyport. The plans are to enlarge some of Daddy’s pictures for display as part of a special Coast Guard exhibit being staged over the next several weeks.

Wow.

Please visit Sepia Saturday to see who else is horsing around.


© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

46 comments:

  1. Wow Wendy!, it's fantastic that a wider audience will now get to enjoy this series. They really do capture an era of maritime life.

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    1. The pictures do indeed capture the life -- from goofing off napping on deck, to lowering a truck into a smaller boat, to Christmas on the ship, the scrapbook covers a lot of interesting territory. Thanks for visiting.

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  2. WOW is right! I am always astounded when 'What goes around comes around' plays out in a persons life. Your Dad did have an 'artistic eye' with the camera and most likely a thought or two about his here and now having such an impact on the here after. You and Mary have made his youthful legacy a forever treasure.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal
    AtoZ 2015 Challenge
    AJ's wHooligans

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    1. "Youthful legacy" -- I love that.

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    1. Thanks - and thanks for visiting.

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  4. That is so exciting! What a wonderful donation story.

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    1. Thanks! I confess, I'm pretty pleased.

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  5. So wonderful to be able to share it with others!

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    1. I think so too. Thanks for visiting.

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    1. Thanks Colleen. I'm excited - can you tell?

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  7. That is - all the adjectives you've heard so far in the comments!! I visited the Red Star Museum in Antwerp, Belgium, last year. They have memorabilia from former passengers and wonderful blown up photos covering the walls! It brings the people and places to life. And that is what your Dad's scrapbook is going to be for people visiting Custom House Maritime Museum. ~ Cathy

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    1. I do hope the scrapbook will be meaningful to visitors at the museum. Thanks for reading.

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  8. What a generous offer to share it with others so all can appreciate the history. My son is a Coast Guard officer so I appreciate it too.

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    1. Then I hope your family will get to the museum one day. I appreciate your son's service.

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  9. Some neat pictures here, & what a great idea to pass the scrapbook on to the maritime museum! VERY cool. :)

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    1. Thanks. I would never have thought of it on my own.

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  10. This is so wonderful Wendy! And it's so kind of you and your family to share this scrapbook with the museum. Perhaps someday family members of those servicemen will visit the museum and see their pictures.

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2015/03/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-march-20.html

    Have a great weekend!

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    1. Thanks for including my blog, Jana!
      Yes, wouldn't it be cool for a family member to suddenly find a relative on the walls of the museum?

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  11. Now that's exciting news!

    My biggest wish is for someone to see the photos and say, "Hey! That's my Dad (or Grandpa or Uncle)! I will keep my fingers crossed that day comes soon. :)

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    1. That's my wish too.
      Thanks for your suggestions. I would never have thought to contact the museum. Their response was much more than I expected.

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  12. So glad this opportunity came up for you to donate the photos

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  13. Cool indeed! I bet he would have been as Proud as Punch.Brilliant Photographs.

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  14. Congratulations for a great honor...I've got two connections to that museum, having been a Coast Guard wife, and my ancestors from several lines in my family from Newburyport. Now if I can just get a way to go to the museum and see the displays with your dad's photos...there will be a way. In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy your blog!

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    1. What a great connection. If you ever get to the museum, I'd be interested in hearing whether any of my dad's photos were on display.

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  15. Oh Wow! That gave me a tingle! Your dad would be very proud! That is wonderful!

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    1. I got that same tingle when I heard from the museum!

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  16. Another Wow from me too. I think blogging has really opened up the way we network ideas about ephemera, so Bravo to IntenseGuy too. Museums really are the place to preserve the kind of unique life experience that your dad recorded with his camera.

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    1. Museums are doing such a wonderful job bringing past experiences to life. I know the scrapbook will be in better hands.

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  17. This is very exciting. And to think we got to preview them all!

    Your dad certainly did have an artistic eye. Was photography an interest of his as you were growing up and did he continue to take pictures with that same eye?

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    1. My dad took pictures of my mom, my sister, and me at Christmas and on vacation -- that's about it. He was no shutterbug by any stretch of the imagination. However, some of the photos in the scrapbook are pretty interesting if not spectacular. There is also a fair amount of fuzzy shots too.

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  18. Oh gosh, your daddy would be ever so proud.

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  19. Ah, Wendy -- good for you! How nice to know the scrapbook will be taken care of; that others will have a chance to see it; that your father's efforts will benefit many! I, too, am thinking of donating lots of things to the historical societies of Boston and Newton Upper Falls (MA), and you're helping me make that decision. Excellent!

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    1. Good idea to pass along to historical societies. I fear most of my heirlooms might be of more interest to the Society of Goodwill.

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  20. That's a wonderful story and I am so glad that the album is going to be made available to the wider world. What a great example of just what us "amateur archivists" can achieve

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    1. Yes, even if on accident. But I'm loving how this turned out.

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  21. I can only agree with all the previous comments - wonderful that your father's album will be honoured and preserved for its historical and artistic value.

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    1. Thanks, Jo. The museum's request for the scrapbook certainly elevated this collection of photos.

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  22. You should feel very proud of making the album available to so many people. Your have earned yourself a Sepian star,

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    1. I'll take that Sepia Star! Thank-you!!

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  23. This is absolutely, without a doubt, the coolest thing I have ever heard! I have a bunch of my grandfather's scrapbooks with interesting newspaper articles about the history of his town and someday I want to donate them to the town. Your experience makes me hopeful that they'd be happy with what I have.

    Congratulations! I'm very excited for you.

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  24. Wendy, this is so amazing and so very kind of you to share the scrapbook with the museum. So many people are going to benefit from your generous donation. Your father certainly had a photographer's eye. The photos are great! Hopefully one day, another family member will recognize their ancestor in one of those photos. This is indeed a blessing on all ends. I am very happy and excited for you.

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