Barry's Relatively Speaking: Once In A Lifetime Occasion

Posted on Jul 17, 2012

Barry's Relatively Speaking shares the personal experiences and stories of genealogists found in the Everton Genealogical Helper Magazine collection on Virginia shares the following experience.

My husband and I have recently become interested in visiting antique flea markets and shows and in May, 1973, had travelled to Brimfield, Massachusetts, where a large Antique Show was held. We admired a few old large oak picture frames and decided to purchase several of them, among which was a smaller frame with lovely inlaid ebony and mother-of-pearl. We paid little or no attention to the pictures themselves, indeed several had no picture at all - just the frame, but the smaller picture frame did have a faded picture of a young woman - attractive but I really had" not noticed anything but the lovely frame. These we took home with us.

My Mother lives alone in a small resort town in Ocean City, New Jersey. During the winter months the cold damp weather is not conducive to 85 year old bones and lungs so she has been visiting us over the winter season for a few years. We had not as yet made use of these picture frames and other items from our various antique jaunts. They were stacked in a spare room where I do my sewing. Last January she came in to talk with me while I was seated at the sewing machine and began to look through the piles of "junk" as she refers to other people's cast-offs and spied this small frame and picture of a young woman. "Where did you get that picture of your grandmother?" she asked. I laughed and told her "that of course it wasn't my grandmother" and I proceeded to explain the circumstances of how we acquired the picture. Well, an argument began and she was so positive that it was her mother that I carefully pried open the frame and slipped out the picture held within, turned it over and read from the back: -Compliments- "Lillian T. Fulton, New Orleans, Louisiana 1875".

This indeed was my grandmother as my Mother excitingly explained to me - her mother at age 17 had gone to visit her uncle who had a sugar plantation in New Orleans and while visiting there had been chosen to be a lady-in-waiting, a member of the Queen's Court at Mardi Gras time and had been photographed for the occasion and according to my Mother this prized picture had hung on the wall in her home in Philadelphia for many years and she had recognized it, When my Mother had married and left her home in Philadelphia and her Mother had broken up housekeeping some years after, perhaps that picture had been given away or sold to an unknown party. How the picture wended its way to Massachusetts at an antique show some sixty odd years later is hard to figure! And the chances that I would pick that certain picture frame with the picture of my grandmother from among thousands I must have picked over is quite difficult to give odds on! Sort of a "once in a lifetime occasion"!

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