Keep, Toss, Donate, Pass On?

While going through my home office closet, I rediscovered my maternal grandmother’s (Loretta Alice Lathrop Ford) suitcase that literally fell apart in my hands.  Years ago I had removed the small pictures and stored them in one of my photo boxes with her name on it.  But, left inside this dilapidated suitcase were still  two 8 x 10 pictures in damaged brass frames with the glass broken into two pieces on each of them.  Fortunately, there was no harm done to the photos (other than the natural aging process of old photos). 

This find caused me to instantly halt my organizing task to scan these photos into my computer.  I then cleaned up many of the blemishes and am sharing these pictures with those who may never have known or seen these relatives of mine, especially at their ages in the photos. 

I believe the first two pictures were taken around the year 1938, making them 82 years old.  I also included a third picture to round out pictures of the Ford family is of Loretta Alice Lathrop Ford.  I Believe this picture is mid-to-late 1950’s.

The first picture below is of my mom (Norma Florence Ford Boling) and her 2-years-older brother, John Austin Ford (Johnny).  If my date estimates are accurate, mom would have been 11 and Johnny 13.  I see my younger face in both of them, mama’s cheek bones, but more so Johnny’s eyes, nose and mouth.  If ADD and ADHD had been medical terms when we lived, he definitely would have fit the bill.  Johnny’s personality was larger-than-life.  He was loved by everyone he ever met (especially the women).  Other blog posts of mine tell his story.  In short, his medical condition with high blood pressure and diabetes was similar to that of a much older man. His doctor warned him that he should not “burn the candle at both ends.”  Johnny passed away in his bathroom in Camp Springs, MD, when he was just 37 and his daughter Tamela was only four months old.  At the time, his household included him, his wife Pat, his daughter Susan, and his mother Loretta Alice Lathrop Ford.  Johnny was a prominent figure in my life.  I looked up to him, his love of life, and his kind and outgoing spirit.  After all, our families lived side-by-side in our homes in Capitol Heights and after family members moved elsewhere, we were still tight and in contact in  person or by phone everyday.

This picture is of my maternal grandfather (Robert Gideon “Roy” Ford).  I don’t recall referring to him as Granddad, he was always Roy to me, like everyone else.  Again, I see my nose and mouth in his face.  He served in Pearl Harbor in the early 1920’s.  I’m told Roy referred to me as a baby as “pudd’n” and “pumpkin head”.  This is because I was born a month premature and had no hair or nails at birth.  I must have been a sight for sore eyes.  Anyway, I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone.  Mama told me his motto was “if you can’t say anything nice about someone, just don’t say anything.  He was by trade a member of the steamfitters union, but was a carpenter and a farmer.  He and Johnny lived and worked together his entire life.  He and my dad, Johnny, and my dad’s uncle helped build my family home in Capitol Heights.  Roy, with Johnny at his side, passed away in our living room in Capitol Heights from a heart attack at age 57 before I had reached my 10th birthday.

To round out this abbreviated family album below is my maternal grandmother.  Some records list her as Alice Lauretta Lathrop Ford, but she signed her name in her beautiful cursive handwriting as Loretta Alice or Loretta A. Ford.  She was a tiger!!!  She was smart, so many life skills, so loving and caring with deep connections with her grandchildren who she helped raise because of our family’s togetherness nearly everyday. In this picture I see my mother’s face when mom was in her 60s.  I see also the high cheek bones and blue eyes that I saw in her children’s photos, above.  When I wrote that she was a tiger, I meant she was a fighter for herself and the ones she loved. She never gave up. Her life as a woman and mother in the era in which she was born and lived included a lot of inequalities and racism.  Yet, one of her dearest confidants was “Josephine,” a woman about her age that occasionally hired to help her with heavy chores and lifting.  Josephine was another daily fixture in our lives.  She had two children that she would bring with her and we would play together while Mamma and Josephine did whatever it was they did.  Mamma had nine heart attacks and I helped take care of her after several of them.  In fact, she was 73, my age, when her heart gave out during a bout of flu.

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