It seldom occurs to us that the older folks in our lives, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., were young once and that someday we’ll be the old fogies.
Have a look at this photograph of my grandmother and I, taken in May, 1949. Grandmom was 60 and I was 4 1/2 years old. The photo is one of my favorites and my first serious restoration effort. The inspiration? I needed a good image of my grandmother for the second edition of her cookbook that I edited and produced as an e-book in November, 2010. I used this image on the title page.
I finished the cookbook, “The Collected Recipes of Frances K. Sullivan” in plenty of time to burn the e-book to CDs and mail out to my sister and cousins in time for Christmas. Everyone else got a wrapped copy in person on Christmas Day. I used this restored image of grandmom crocheting in her favorite chair for the cover.
The first edition of the cookbook was done in November, 1987 and printed using a dot matrix printer (and more than one ribbon). Mom helped me decipher grandmom’s handwriting and put the book in order. Mom also paid for the printing and binding (spiral bound 8 1/2 X 11). And we surprised everyone in the family with a copy of the book that Christmas 23 years ago.
This time around I had far more sophisticated computer resources at my disposal. There are 20 chapters in the cookbook. It occurred to me that it might be fun to include images from grandmom’s life in the book so I inserted an image at the beginning of each chapter.
I had discovered a small suitcase filled with old snapshots in mom’s garage. The photos belonged to my late Aunt Martie Ann. As I went through these images looking for material, I saw grandmom as a young mother. I saw her growing family. I realized that these images weren’t simply old photos — they were much more. They were windows into the lives of my grandmother and her family. Real people!
The images I put into the cookbook whet my appitite for more so I published a photo book. This is the cover I created for that project. The book is 8 inches X 8 inches printed on real photo paper. It contains 46 digitally restored photos and sits on my mom’s coffee table. I gave it to her as a Mother’s day gift — she loves it.
The cover image is another of my favorites. Here’s Frances K. Sullivan (she wasn’t a grandmom then) as a young mother in her early thirties with her first three children. The building in the background is the farmhouse. Mom wasn’t born until the family moved to Phila. a few years later.
The reason the image is light and ghostly on the right is because it was double exposed. I cropped and fiddled and came up with a decent image.
The inspiration for my digital restoration journey began with the desire to include images from grandmom’s life in the new edition of the cookbook. The journey continues and takes me deeper into the lives of grandmom and her family. Just the other day I ‘finished’ and published the restored image of grandmom and uncle Harry when grandmom was 10 years old. I restored another image of her grandmother (Uncle Harry’s mother). The journey continues to expand.
I don’t know where the journey will lead but I’m certain of one thing. The images I restore digitally will preserve these precious images and bring them to life for our children, grandchildren and generations to come. And I’m enjoying every minute of the journey.