I posted this picture to Genealogy Tip of the Day as a reminder to look at an entire image for clues and not to just focus on the people or the animals in the photograph. There were comments made about the photograph on our Facebook page and privately that got me to thinking about the picture, what’s in it, why it was taken, and assumptions that we make.

Based upon a comment, I do think that the items hanging in the tree are at least partially from the cream separator my grandparents used during the time when this photograph was taken. My memory starts after my grandparents had stopped milking cows to sell milk and the separator sat unused in the basement of their home. The middle item in the tree looks somewhat like what I saw sitting on the separator I originally thought the item in the middle was some sort of chicken waterer–as that’s what it looked like to me at first glance.

Maybe it really doesn’t look like a chicken waterer at all, but perhaps because I associate Grandma with chickens, I just assumed the items in the tree had something to do with the chickens. For me, Grandma and chickens are two things that are inexorably tied to each other. I also assumed that Grandma took the photograph, but perhaps my Dad’s older brother was the one behind the camera. I can’t imagine my Grandpa taking the picture, but it’s possible that he did.

I need to keep in mind that my memory starts thirtysome years after this picture was taken. That’s also why it’s slightly difficult for me to think of exactly where this photograph was taken: it’s before my memory starts of my Grandma’s house and the sheds, chicken coop, garage, brooder house, and barns to the south and west of it. I can’t go back today and look at Grandma’s farm to see what it looked like when I was a child either. The house is gone. The garage is gone. The barns and some outbuildings remain. The point is that things change constantly.

I was also told that there must have been some reason the photo was taken–that photos during this time period weren’t taken on a whim. I’m not certain I believe that either. While photography was not cheap during this time period and my grandparents were not flush with money, I do have the occasional picture that was taken at a lighthearted moment–the cat in the window and my grandfather lying in the front yard to where you can really only see his boots come to mind. Maybe they wanted a picture of the dog. I’m not certain.

I’m reasonably certain the picture is of my Dad. It looks like other identified pictures of him from the same time period. It was in his scrapbook that contains other numerous pictures of him and was in his effects when he died. It’s one of the few pictures I have of him with a dog. Based on the short sleeves and lack of socks and shoes, I’m concluding it was taken when the weather was warm.




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