Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Four Mysterious Chums

While I was walking the IG postcodes on Sunday, I found this old photo near Redbridge, sopping wet and lying in the street -- just as I photographed it, above. Because I can't stand to see old photos lost and forgotten, I picked it up and tucked it loosely into my camera bag, in a compartment where it could dry out.

I wonder who they are? They look like military buddies -- I think the second guy from the left has bars on his chest. Those uniforms are seriously ill-fitting. Unfortunately, there's nothing written on the back.

It's a mysterious little piece of history!

My guess is someone died -- maybe one of the guys in the photo, or his spouse -- and the picture was thrown away. It somehow fell out of the trash can and blew down the street, where it lay in the rain and dew until I picked it up. Allow me to preserve it for posterity on the Internet!

In other news...

With some recent incentive -- nights with temperatures in the mid-40s F -- Dave has figured out how to operate our heating system. We now have the radiators turned on and the house is much more comfortable, both warmer and drier. I let Dave work it out because I don't have much experience with radiators -- in New York I always had building heat, which came on in October whether I wanted it or not, and I never tried to regulate it. (And in Florida, no one has radiators.) My solution to a cold house is another layer of clothing!

Yesterday was a rainy day made for nesting. I read half of "Gone Girl," which is a great page-turner, and I took Olga to Fortune Green and the cemetery when the weather lifted a bit. It felt very English to walk around in the blustery gray cemetery, the wind whipping at the stone-faced angels and headstone of the "master of Heatherleys," wherever that was. Dave, meanwhile, stayed on the couch, adapting a Mahler piece for his band. We didn't even try to make dinner. I ate a peanut butter sandwich and watercress salad, and some cheese and crackers, and ice cream for dessert, all while curled up watching two episodes of "Downton Abbey."

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Dave and I have yesterday and today off from school because it's October break. We return to work on Wednesday. Today I'll be back on the photography trail!


  1. Your life sounds so cozy -- we're still sweltering out here with temperatures in the high 90s and no rain in sight. I never thought I'd think it or want it, but oh, for some rain.

  2. The uniforms make me feel that the men are somewhere in the Far East
    I think this has been your best post to date

  3. I am glad you rescued that photo. Sad to see it abandoned. I have quite a few photos of people I don't know, got at various boot fairs. I have a set of airmail letters from an English man who moved to New Zealand-they are to his parents and document his life as a pilot, including a head injury which meant he couldn't work, and the cars he had. I have not read all of them though. I also have a framed portrait of a happy looking Victorian or Edwardian gentleman got for a pound at the boot fair. Love those things! Your day sounds very cosy. I like that kind of day. I didn't work again yesterday but didn't get any photos done. We have been away for two weekends in a row so I have not had time. I got an email from Del which I must reply to. It made me feel a bit guilty for not having done any for two weeks!

  4. I have photos of supposed family members that I don't know what to do with. Damn but it drains my soul.
    Those were handsome guys.
    I read "Gone Girl" quite awhile ago and yes, it was a page turner and I did enjoy it but I'm a bit shocked now at the huge amount of press the movie is getting. I really didn't think the book was that special. I guess I was wrong, eh?

  5. those guys probably thought they looked quite dapper. I liked Gone Girl all right but I liked her Sharp Objects better. She has another book, Dark Matter, which I'm going to look for.

  6. I love that you saved that old photo and cleaned it up so nicely. It would be wonderful if someone saw it and knew the story behind it. That is probably a zillion to one shot. I think it looks like it would make a great focal point for an Inspector Lewis episode or maybe a Jane Marple mystery.

  7. What a good deed you've done, rescuing that wonderful photo. I can only wonder at the stories contained in that one image. You did a really nice job cleaning it up and restoring it, too.

    As I imagined you walking among the tombstones on a blustery day, then cozying up with Dave and Olga and eating peanut butter sandwiches and watercress salad for dinner, I had the thought that your life is a little like the happily ever after of a fairy tale. The thought made me happy to consider, knowing that we share the experience of that life changing event, being laid off in publishing.

  8. I am pleased that you, too, are communing with the ancestors.

    The picture is fascinating. I would never have notice that ill fitted clothing, but you are so right!

    The scene in the cemetery - cinematic! A black and white film from the 50s.

  9. I need those pants that the guy with the bar is wearing! They would be perfect - for what I don't know, but I DO know they'd be perfect :)

  10. I hate it when people throw stuff like that out to just let it fend for itself. I'd rather it get destroyed immediately when the decision is made that it is no longer wanted.

  11. Oh, this is marvelous - the kind of thing I created my own blog for. :) You've done a great job cleaning it up, too; I can't really do this (both in terms of required gear and required skill), and wish I could.
    As for these guys, I'm not sure what the bars are, but have you noticed that the bespectacled guy on the right has something on his epaulettes? Possibly officer marks, or something, although I'm not sure since he's dressed pretty much the same as the others (same type of shirt as the guy next to him).

    Having not so long ago gone over a bunch of my grandfather's old RAF photos (some of which are now on the blog, the rest await an update I never get around to) I'm guessing this'd be sometime around WWII, but I'm not sure. Could even be earlier, judging from the hairstyle. But again, I'm no expert, far from it... there are probably resources that could identify it more accurately.

    And considering the time frame, it's also possible that it was actually the son/daughter of one of the men who passed away; at that point, the memories would be old enough that nobody would see a point of keeping the picture.
    Although we can of course also assume a (slightly) more optimistic reason - perhaps the picture was inside an old album, which was being taken from one place to another, and it dropped out unintentionally? It's still sad, but at least you don't get the feeling it was forgotten.

  12. Everybody: First of all, thanks for the compliments on my photo restoration skills, but honestly all I did was clean it off, dry it out, scan it, import it into iPhoto and make it black & white. I can't claim any great skill level!

    I too hate to see photos and personal mementos like this discarded. A photo without its backstory seems like a lonely thing. But Yael is right -- who knows what happened. Someone may be annoyed that they lost their snapshot!