My grandmother, like many grandmothers, had a box of old photographs tucked away up on a closet shelf. Over the years I would take that box down and an afternoon full of “Who’s this?”, “Now, she married who?”, and “I kind of look like this one!” would follow. Nine or ten years ago, I set out to identify the photos, once and for all. Armed with a pad of sticky notes and a pencil, I sat down with Gram at her kitchen table. We did a pretty good job, but there were many she had no clue about. “That must be your grandfather’s people, I don’t recognize them”, she would say. Down the road, even that tiny tidbit of information has proven helpful in identifying people. (My advice: write everything down!)
The folder titled “Unidentified” on my computer continues to grow. Relatives share old albums and their own boxes full of photographs with pristine backs – rarely a name or identifier to be found. I have resigned myself to the fact that I may never know the identities of the three dozen portraits of smiling babies and children in their First Communion finery, but there are some of the photographs that almost haunt me. For instance, there is the handsome guy from the early 1900s with a moustache who appears in far too many photos for me to not know him. Then there is this couple:
Both of them look vaguely familiar, sort of like my relatives, but I really can’t say. Could they be neighbors from Tara Township or Clontarf? When my mom and I look at the unidentified photos we say, “This could be…” again and again until we get tired of guessing and put them away. This is truly a mystery photograph! Maybe someone out there has an idea? Jackie and Tom, could they be Dohertys?
If you have any ideas, please leave a comment! This could be…