Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Stories which never get written

There is something fascinating about writing about the lives of people from the past.  

It begins with a photograph or letter and by degree how they lived their lives is revealed through census returns, newspaper clippings, and the memories of friends and family.

Of course it will never be a complete picture, because so many little bits of detail are lost forever, and in some cases what is discovered is best left in the shadows.

But equally fascinating are the stories which never get written, even though a heap of research has gone into their making.

Usually it is because all the diligent peeling back of a life is not enough and there is still much that cannot be found, leaving you either with an incomplete story or one that is just abandoned.

Sometimes however, there is reluctance on the part of the family to let the story out, which I fully understand and respect and just occasionally the finished research is met with silence.

A few months back I happily helped out someone who wanted to know about a previous occupant in the house they owned.  It didn’t take long and on the way I learnt a little about the place they lived.

But there had been an understanding, that in return they would offer up some pictures which never came and so the story was never written.

And it is of pictures that I want to finish with.  These two are undated, and no names appear on the back.

They were part of a collection that had belonged to our dad and I am guessing that the people in both were known to him.

But sadly not to us.

The group looks to be a wedding party and I would guess the picture was taken in the 1920s or early 30s but the identities of the people will never now be revealed.

And the same is true of the young woman, who appears in four different photographs, all outside the back window in the yard of someone’s house.

Given that dad grew up in Gateshead I think this will be the location of the picture.

She smiles back at us but who the smile was for along with her name and that of the identity of the hand are also lost.

More than once I have tried writing the story but the unknowns are too many and so, she and the hand continue to be just a picture.

Location; unknown

Pictures; from the collection of Andrew Simpson

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