Thursday, December 5, 2013


by Judy

I like that I have my Dad's blue eyes, my Grandmother's middle name, and my Great-Grandmother's love of photography.  I like how each of these things connect me with my family members before me.  

My Great-Grandmother Anna lived a very simple life.  For many years (long before I was even born) she lived with no electricity and no indoor plumbing.  Even though times changed, she really didn't.  By the time I was a little kid visiting her with my family, she had electricity.  She had plumbing in the kitchen, but still used an outhouse.  Of course, as a small child I thought it was very interesting and exciting to use the outhouse, but wondered how she could live without a TV or radio!  Even though her way of living was different from what I was used to, the thing I remember the most about my Great-Grandmother was her huge box of sepia toned photos and her old wooden stereoscope.  Oh how I loved that stereoscope!

Below is some information I found about stereoscopes here:

"Stereoscopes, also known as stereo viewers, were one of America's most popular forms of entertainment in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  The first patented stereoscope was invented by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838.  Wheatstone had experimented with simple stereoscopic drawings in 1832, several years before photography was invented.  Later, the two principles were combined to form the stereoscope. 

A stereoscope is composed of two pictures mounted next to each other, and a set of lenses to view the pictures through.  Each picture is taken from a slightly different viewpoint that corresponds closely to the spacing of the eyes. The left picture represents what the left eye would see, and likewise for the right picture.  When observing photos through a special viewer, the pair of two-dimensional pictures merge together into a single three-dimensional photograph."

Those old photographs captivated me.  I loved their sepia color.  I loved the feel of the thick, hard "postcards" they were printed on.  I loved their "old" smell.  And it was nothing less than pure magic to me that I could put the photo into the stereoscope and see one 3-D photo in front of my eyes!

As I look back now, I imagine that my Great-Grandmother felt the same kind of wonder that I did.  A very simple woman, living a very simple life, but seeing the world through those photos.  Seeing something "magic" each time she raised the stereoscope to her eyes - seeing places she'd never even dreamed of.  

My Great-Grandmother has been gone a long time now, and I sometimes wonder where those photos and stereoscope ended up.  Oh how I wish I had them. I find myself looking for some whenever I'm in an antique shop, but still have had no luck finding any.  

 I like to think that my love of photography started way back then with those photos and that stereoscope.  I like that I am connected with my Great-Grandmother through our mutual love of those photos.  And sometimes I wonder if a future member of my family will share my love of photography and remember me in the same way.  

What do you share with one of your ancestors? Do you have a special love of something that they loved too?  Please share with us, either here in the comment section, or on our Facebook page.  We'd love to read all of your stories.  

Don't forget that this month's theme is JOY.  Put a smile on everyone's faces by posting your photos depicting joy in our flickr group and on Instagram.  


Sarah Huizenga said...

Growing up we had family friends that were in the antique business and they had one of those stereoscopes in their house. I too loved looking at the old cream edged photos and raising that viewer to my eyes. Thank you for sharing your memories.

Jeanne said...

It is alot of fun looking back on these amazing connections isn't it! Fun post

terriporter said...

Wow, what a treasure that would be to have that old stereoscope and those photos! But you have them in your memory as well as the feeling that you inherited your great grandmother's love of photography. That is very special. My mother was an artist and I always wished I could follow in her footsteps but could barely draw a stick figure so photography for me is my art. I feel so blessed to have discovered it because it brings me a tremendous amount of joy and satisfaction. I hope I can pass that love onto one of my grandchildren. Thanks for this heartwarming post!

Kim Stevens said...

I am fortunate in that I do have a small collection of really old photos of some of my family. It was the first thing I went to when I visited my grandparents. I was always mesmerized by the strangers in the photos. Of course now, and especially since my daughter and I have been researching our genealogy, we have figured out who some of them are. Great post!

CarolHart said...

Thank you Judy for this lovely post. I shall keep an eye out for a stereoscope for you as I often rummage through antique and junk never know! I have my grandmother's family pictures that she always kept in her hope chest. I have fond memories as a child of sitting on the floor with her in front of the hope chest, bringing out these pictures and telling me her story. The hope chest she gave me has been passed on to my niece, but I still have those pictures. Whenever my son visits I take them out and tell her story.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post! I had no idea there was such a thing as a stereoscope! I too, have some very old photos, with that same thickness and smell and I never get tired of looking at them. Well, there wasn't a lot of talent in my family other than my dad loved to make things…he loved to work with wood, wire and other natural materials. One Sunday afternoon when I was a small child my dad and I made a paper kite out of the comics section of the newspaper. He strung some sticks together with twine and we used an old bed sheet to tear in strips for the tail. I will never forget that day, when that little kite soared high in the sky! I guess my love to be a crafter came from my dad. My love of photography is from a desire to capture a special moment to have forever. Thanks for sharing a beautiful story!

Dotti said...

Life really is all about connections, don't you think? FOL is about connections, too. That's what we do, we all connect with one another and while our love of photography may be the spark, the connections grow to be so much more. So cool, isn't it? Such great memorabilia, Judy, and a wonderfully reminiscent post. I think the holiday season and the swift approach of a new year tend to bring out the need to reminisce.

kelly said...

i can remember being a little girl and my favorite thing in the world was going through both of my grandmothers' photo albums. they both loved taking pictures and i think that is where my love of photography began. no too long ago i was at my parents' house helping them unpack and i ran across my grandmother's old box camera. my dad remembered his mom taking his picture with it. it was wonderful to feel so connected to my grandma in that moment. thank you for sharing your stories and for giving me a case of the warm fuzzies on this blustery day. xoxo

Carol said...

I am very rich in this way. My father has hundreds of photos from his love of photography, and has already given me some of his cameras.He also has hundreds more from his father, and I have books of Europe trips from my mother's side. I have already half- written a post about this - and this may be the week for it , Judy !

kybarb said...

Love this post about making connections! I was just talking to my cousin this evening about old family photos and how we loved looking at them when we visited our grandparent's home. They had a stereoscope too! I love sifting through our old family photos and recently found a connection with my mother's side of the family while looking through photos--I noticed many of the family photos included a dog and then remembered that my uncle loved dogs and was a very good dog trainer (not professionally). I love dogs too and wondered where this came from! Now I know! I got my love of photography from my dad too.

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