These days, many of us take photos with our phones and send them to each other via email or post them online on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve got photos on my Facebook profile and there’s some video clips of me speaking on my website. I don’t have photos of my family or my children when they were young on my iPhone or even in my wallet. I suppose I should get some in there! My husband carries a photo of me and photos of the kids taken around 25 years ago in his wallet. If he shows them to people they must wonder why he has such a young family!
It got me thinking about my grandma Esther (that’s her and my grandpa Lou in the photo) who used to carry a huge photo wallet with photos of her grand-kids and then eventually her great-grand-kids in her purse. She had those accordion style wallets that, when you held on to the top and let it open, would stretch out to 4 or 5 feet of photos, each in a little connected plastic sleeve. She carried them everywhere and at any moment, when the conversation looked like she could segue into a display, she would ask, “would you like to see photos of my grandchildren?” If the response was favorable, she would reach into her enormous “pocketbook” (that’s what they used to call purses back then) and extract this wallet, flip it out, and then go through the photos one-by-one with whomever was the current viewing audience. It could be anyone from a new friend she’d just met at the park to the bagger at the grocery store. I was always amazed that she carried all those photos in her purse. I guess purses have always been large but as a child, it always seemed she could keep a toaster oven in her pocketbook.
First they were photos of me and my brother and sister as children and then later my own children. I always remember feeling slightly embarrassed but also touched that she was so proud of us, and her collection of photos. My mom and dad thought that she used to go through our house when we weren’t there, looking for photos she hadn’t been given yet. Certainly when she passed on and I inherited her several photo albums, there were many photos that I had never seen before and I’m still in the process of tagging and organizing them into an archival storage system.
Obviously photo wallets have not completely gone the way of the dinosaur as you can still find them everywhere. I love how easy it is to share photos with social media tools but there is something to be said for the old fashioned way of having the real deal in your wallet or purse.