may I have a word?…

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” How many times have we all heard this said?

Years ago I emailed Ruthie a segment of a journal I had compiled for my grandsons. I only did so because Johnny Riggs was mentioned and I hoped it would find its way to him. Almost as an afterthought, I attached a labeled photo of my Southboro Elem. class of 1952. The picture had first been posted by another classmate (I believe Patsy Stephens) over a year before. I treasure my copy and I’m sure all of the others in the picture that are still alive do also, but let me ask a question…

Southboro Class of 1952Will anybody treasure this photo 30 years from now?

Because someone has gone to the trouble to put names with the faces, one of my great-grandchildren may say, “look there’s Pop’s dad, he kind of looks like Herb”. If there were no names attached, the picture would be worthless and end up back in the box and eventually relegated to the trash heap or, at best, pinned on the wall at Cracker Barrel. To illustrate just what I’m trying to get across; I have a second photo, 3 years older, that was sent to me by still another classmate. Annette Vines is married to an ex-business associate of mine and lives in Ormond Beach. She didn’t graduate with us but she’s the angelic little thing seated on the ground – far right – in the picture of Mrs. William’s 3rd grade 1948-49 class at Southboro Elem. I recognize some of my classmates but not all, maybe you’d like to give it a try and fill in the blanks?

Southboro Elem 1948-1949

4th row, standing on chairs   __ ? __, Lake Lytal*, __?__, Eddie Shoemaker, Jimmy Powell, Doug Stainthorpe, Billy Wilkinson                                 3rd row standing  __ ? __, __?__, __?__, __ ? __, __?__, __?__                                                        2nd row seated  Johnny Wilcher, Johnny Riggs, Bill Stevens, Bobby Sutton, __ ? __, __?__, __?__          1st row on the ground __?__, Susan Schmitt, Patsy Stephens, Jane Smith, Annette Vines

  • * name confirmed, thank you!

My sister stopped by yesterday with two boxes of stuff she had separated out for me from family items retrieved after my father passed away. My mother had preceded him. My father was an avid picture taker and had photos from as far back as the early 1930’s. Most of the shots include family members and friends that I recognize but I’m sure my children will not. The same can be said for other photos depicting locations, homes, events and etc. Along with these were portraits, wedding pictures, landscape shots, team photos, graduation pictures, and even tintypes – many dating back well into the 19th century. Along with all of these hundreds of photographs was one letter. It was from my mother to my aunt Mary in South Carolina. I won’t bore you with details but the letter was dated April 18, 1943 and, in my mother’s handwriting (an art form our great-grandchildren will have no concept of), told of her opportunity to travel by automobile from Oklahoma to visit her parents in Louisville, KY despite the wartime gas rationing.

There weren’t more than a few hundred words in my mother’s letter but, as I sit here today, every syllable she wrote is worth more to me than all of those pictures of strangers. No! A picture is not worth a thousand words if a thousand pictures without, at least, a single word can be worthless!

Put it in writing my friends. Put it in writing not just to label photographs but put it in writing to tell future generations who you were, what you thought, and why you wanted them to know … they will appreciate it.

Jimmy Powell

an illustrative postscript on the lighter side:

Aunt Maud                  Maud Ident

On the back of this tintype from the 1800’s are the words you see above … “Maud Tharp, sister of Amanda Tharp”. Amanda Tharp was my maternal grandmother so that means we are looking at a baby picture of Jim Powell’s grand-aunt. (Is that exciting or what?)

2 thoughts on “may I have a word?…

  1. Amen. I have so many wonderful pictures my mother kept of her and my father’s ancestors. I have no idea who most of them are because there are no WORDS on the back of them to tell me. In some cases there is a date, or an “Uncle Ted,” but what was he like? Isn’t there something about Uncle Ted that was worth noting? I have a few of my mother’s letters, a couple of my dad’s and a recipe that my mother cared to write out for me that I treasure. Even if you think you aren’t a “good” writer, write a note to future generations and say hello there, I wish I had known you. Here are a few of my favorite things.


  2. Jimmy, I look forward to everything you write. There are old memories to cherish. Keep writing for all of us….Patsy Stephens Brown


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