Saturday, December 10, 2011

Memories That Are Not My Own

I always had this theory that shopping secondhand was a bit like time travel. Previously owned goods have a history. When was it originally made? What purpose did it serve at the time? Who owned it? Finding the answers to these questions can mean forging a connection between the past and the present. Of course not every hideous vintage sweater or dusty ol' knick-knack has a magical story behind it. 

But every once in a while I'll come across something that does have a story. Something personal perhaps. Something that once had meaning but now, for reasons unknown are given away to the the donation bins of Goodwill. 

This is the story of Bill and Marge. 

Two days ago I found their photo album documenting a road trip they journeyed back in November of 1988. They collected post cards, tourist pamphlets and took photographs of the roads and natural surroundings on their way.

Hello from the highway!
Post card of The Appalachian and Blue Ridge.

A lovely post card that was never sent to Frank. 
 The Eastern Screech Owls of Shenandoah National Park.
Photograph of The Appalachian.
 The Ohio River through Otter Creek Park in Kentucky.
Marge reflects on the journey. 

There are pages and pages of post cards and nature shots of Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania from Bill and Marge Echenhofer. I don't know them, nor will I ever likely meet them. I don't know how it came to be that their photo album made it to the shelves of Goodwill. I only know that I now own that album, a stock of memories that are not my own but somehow have come to make a connection across time, space and circumstance. 


Sir Thrift-A-Lot said...

Interesting. I always sift through the photo albums at the thrifts for forgotten photos.

I have a set of 4 from one family documenting many years of their lives. Nothing to crazy, but pretty awesome. From the very late 1960's & 1970s. One picture they loved so much they had it blown up and put it on the back page. It's a great picture. They look so happy together! I always wonder how they ended up at Value Village.

Jackie Jardine said...

I'm glad you shared this, Sir. At least I know I'm not the only one out there who gets some enjoyment from finding other people's memories. It's rare that I ever find actual albums. Typically I come across framed photos. Ya know, it makes me just a little sad though. Because you have to wonder was there no one in these people's lives that wanted to keep those photos after they've gone?

<3 Jackie

Peace said...

It's things like that that make me a little sad too. Nobody who knew them was left to care enough, and we end up random yet willing custodians of someone's memories. I bought a ceramic Xmas tree platter today that for some unexplained reason had been at the thrift for more than a month, long enough to be half price twice and nobody bought it. On the back "Merry Christmas From Harry and Gayline 1978". I imagine myself at the disco on 18 night while Harry or Gayline was glazing this piece to give away. Far out. Mingling memories.

Jackie Jardine said...

"Custodians of someone's memories." I like that a lot, Peace. Let's see. At the time these photos were taken I was 4 years old. And my little sister who I introduced to the fine art of thrift shopping...well, she wasn't even born yet.


Vanessa said...

I love how you've lovingly documented their memories here. It's crazy to me that people donate books like this. Let's start a thrift museum of memories and oddities...what fun that would be!

Jackie Jardine said...

I love that idea, Van! I think between us we have enough curiosities, ha ha.


Eartha Kitsch said...

They look SO sweet. I just had to look them up and it looks like he passed long before her. I don't even know them and it makes me glad to know that they had this amazing road trip together.

Jackie Jardine said...

Hi there, Eartha. (I love the handle, by the way). I too looked up the family and actually found what I believe to be next of kin. I actually have contemplated contacting him to see if he would like any of these photos or post cards. But, sadly, I have the feeling he could've donated the album in the first place. I am glad though that you too think fondly of these strangers on their journey. I certainly do!

Thanks for visiting Let's Go Thrifting!

Frank said...

Hi Jackie,
I am Marge's son Frank
I'd love to communicate with you.
I do recall Bill and Marge traveling around 1988 to the locals you describe.
During this trip they probably also visited my sister who was living in Virginia at the time.
thanks for posting the card that was never sent.
Now I have the good fortune to read it
many thanks,
Frank Echenhofer