Old photographs share stories of old

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 4, 2019

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Old photographs are true treasures. A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to rummage through my grandparents’ home. Uncovering an old cedar chest, you can only imagine the treasures I found. Among the finds were pictures of old relatives with faint scribbles of names filling the backs, newspapers clippings, family bibles with notes between the scriptures, and old letters sent to my great uncle when he was away at war. A family time capsule, I was introduced to a world that is sadly gone, but thankfully never forgotten.

The unique common denominator of all the photographs was the presence of a story surrounding each one. Sorting through the pictures along with my dad, he shared every detail of the black and whites, from smiles on the front steps during a family reunion to ancient photographs of my great-great grandparents. As I observed each one, I wanted to learn more — more about the places and faces in each picture.

Last month, I had the privilege of attending a press conference with William Lee Golden. Meeting at the Golden family farm, many gathered to learn more about Brewton’s own country music hall of famer. In collaboration with the Alabama 200 bicentennial celebration, Golden invited many to his childhood home to celebrate the birth of the state and his Alabama heritage. As he spoke to the crowd he said, “How we wound up here, it is like some of the rest of you people—it was our ancestors. My granddaddy Golden moved here and bought some of these farms.”

Listening to his story, it felt too familiar. For me, Alabama is home, and what a wonderful home this state is!

This month, Alabama will celebrate its 200th year on Dec. 14, 2019. A three-year celebration, the finale will end in Montgomery.

From Dec. 13-15, Alabamians from across the state are encouraged to participate in the largest statewide birthday party to date. Throughout the weekend, Alabama’s people, places, and stories will be celebrated with concerts, parades and family activities.

Looking back at the beginning of the commemoration in 2017, the campaign explored and discovered places all over the state that made Alabama special. In 2018, the people of Alabama were celebrated. Now, in 2019, everyone is encouraged to share their own stories and prepare to write new ones in Alabama’s third century.

What a special heritage to celebrate and what a special place to call home. So share your story!

This holiday season, spark up conversations at the family reunion about old relatives. Find the old recipe of your grandmother’s and make the dish for the holiday gathering. Tell your children a story you’ve never shared, or find your great aunt and ask her what exactly your great-grandfather enjoyed doing most. Listen and take in the stories of old and learn the history about the people that came before you.

Most of all don’t forget to use the technology we readily have and take a picture to document the gathering. Maybe one day someone will ask about the image and you, just like my dad, will fill the room with laughter as you share the memories surrounding the old photograph.