Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Slice of Life #52Stories17/52: Precious Photo

I'm attempting to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. One story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories of my life. This week's precious photo was taken almost ten years before I was born.

This is the last photo of my grandfather, Andrew T. Scifres, in 1945 with six of his sixteen children. I'm grateful for the words on the back of the photo which I'm assuming were written by my dad's sister, Estelle Duke:

One of the last Photos of Andrew Scifres, and the last Group Photo, with 6 of his 16 children. 
Back row: Roy and Minnie Scifres Crownover, Estelle Scifres Duke, Andrew T. Scifres, Mary Scifres Howard, & Martha Young Scifres. 
Ft. row - Lillian and Ellis Scifres, Henry Scifres & Lee & Marjorie Scifres. 

This is also the last group picture Martha would be in. The next photo of the Scifres children would be the day of Martha's funeral.

Many of the pictures we have of my dad's family were given to us by our cousin Bill Duke, Aunt Estelle's son. Aunt Estelle and Bill are both deceased so we are grateful that Bill, an only child, made copies and shared his pictures with us.

When I look at this picture, I have several questions and two wishes:

  • When was the picture taken?
  • Who took the picture?
  • Is that Grandma and Grandpa's home in the background? 
  • I wish Aunt Mary had stood next to her sister Estelle instead of behind and between Grandma and Grandpa.
  • I wish they had taken a photo of the grand kids.

When was the picture taken? Since my father did not arrive home from Germany (where he had been a prisoner of war) until May 19, 1945, the picture would have been taken sometime between that date and June 14, 1945, the date of my grandfather's death. 

Who took the picture? I'm clueless here, although I've been told that Aunt Marjorie (Uncle Lee's wife) had a camera and took many of the family photos we have. Maybe the picture was taken by one of Aunt Minnie's children. 

Is that Grandma and Grandpa's home in the background? I'm hoping that some of Aunt Minnie's children can answer this question for me.

My wish that we could have seen more of Aunt Mary is something I will have to remember every time I try to position myself at the back of a photo. This head shot leaves me without a clear picture of my dad's sister, Mary, on this occasion. But I have many memories of my Aunt Mary who lived in Ada, Oklahoma. Our yearly trips to the Scifres reunion always included a stop in Ada to see Aunt Mary, whose health in her later years prevented her from attending the reunion.

I wish we had a picture of the grand kids present on this occasion. Taking photos was a costly endeavor, so maybe that's why there is no picture of the grand kids or maybe they were out playing and it would have been too hard to round them up. My oldest sister, Velma, was three years old when this photo was taken, and the only one of my three siblings that were born at this time.

Finally, I like thinking about the ages of the people in the photo when it was taken: 
  • Uncle Roy - 42
  • Aunt Minnie - 41
  • Aunt Estelle - 28
  • Grandpa Scifres - 89
  • Aunt Mary - 57 *
  • Grandma Scifres - 70
  • Lillian (my mom) - 23
  • Ellis (my dad) - 32
  • Uncle Henry - 65 *
  • Uncle Lee - 44
  • Aunt Marjorie - 44 
* Uncle Henry and Aunt Mary were the children of Andrew T. and Sarah Anlin Smith Scifres (Grandpa's first wife)

I like thinking of the joy present at this family gathering which may have been the first time my grandparents saw Lee (my uncle) and Ellis (my dad), after their return home from service in World War II. My Uncle Elbert also served in World War II. He's present in the pictures taken at my grandmother's funeral, Martha Ada Young Scifres, who died on June 19, 1945 (five days after her husband, Andrew T.'s death). I wonder if Uncle Elbert  saw his parents before their funerals. And how grievous for these three boys who survived the war to lose both their parents so soon after the end of the war and their return home.  

Even though I wasn't born until ten years after this picture was taken, it's a cherished piece of family history. I look forward to hearing from some of my first cousins, Aunt Minnie's children, who may be able to tell me more about this family gathering.


  1. What a wonderful project, Ramona! You are learning so much about your family. And I love how you are really digging in deep, allowing yourself to both wonder and wish. Best wishes as you continue.

  2. What a great project to do this year! I love your questions. It makes me think of the story behind the family. I am planning to go through our family photos and it makes me think I should do just this. Write a quick story about the photos I choose to save. We lose so much of our family stories as the older ones pass on. Thanks for the idea.

  3. I love this project (I've said that before) and love the idea of saving/sharing memories in this manner.Life was so different then....it makes you stop and takes your breath away.

  4. I've never written off of an old photograph that I wasn't in before. I'm inspired to have a go with it after reading your writing about this family portrait.