The Darwin Exception

because it's not always survival of the fittest – sometimes the idiots get through

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People I Never Knew

Posted by thedarwinexception on November 26, 2006

One weird thing about all the stuff my Aunt left us when she died was the pictures. I have tons and tons of pictures. Most of them were very welcome. Pictures of my Grandparents, pictures of my cousins (usually those stupid little school photos, the kind you would normally give to your Aunt), pictures of my great grandparents, even some pictures of me and my siblings that I had (thankfully) forgotten about. God, I hate school pictures. Nobody looks their best in a school picture.

But a lot of the pictures were of people I do not know. And what the hell do you do with pictures of people you don’t know? Do you throw them away? Do you try to find people who might know them? Do you put them in a box and hope someday your own kids will have the balls to just throw them away? I don’t know what to do with these things.

And think about your own piles and piles of pictures. How many of these do you have? Pictures of Christmas trees with presents underneath. Why do we take these pictures? Do you ever really look back at them and sigh and say “Oh, yeah,
*that* was a Christmas – I’m so glad I have this picture to remind me that December 25th really did happen in 1999. Are pictures of past Christmas’s things that are to be handed down? Are they family heirlooms? Is one picture of a tree
with presents underneath *really* distinguishable from another?

And my Aunt did a lot of camping and traveling in her motor home. So I have a lot of pictures of vacations I never was on. What the hell do I do with these? Pictures of mile markers and “Welcome to East Fuckistan” signs, landscape pictures of mountains and streams, pictures of moose and deer along the side of the road. Pictures of barbecue’s with friends I can not identify. Pictures of people waving from amusement park rides – and when you don’t know the people and they are eternally waving to you from a 4 X 6 picture, well, that’s rather fucking creepy.

And the parties – work parties, friends parties, Christmas parties, wedding showers, all with unidentifiable people in unidentifiable locations in unidentifiable times. I was not at these parties, I have no memories of the drunken revelry. I have no memories of the gorgeous dishes and the crappy bands.

None of the pictures are identified with names, dates, locations, or even who they originally belonged to. None of them are grouped together in a photo album, they are all just in their little folders from the pharmacy, department store or camera shop where they were originally developed. Or in a massive pile with a rubber band around them.

I don’t know what to do with these photos. I thought of uploading them to some “found photo” site, but I can’t find one that seems appropriate. I thought of giving them to some “lost photo society”, but there doesn’t seem to be one in my area. What the hell do I do with the pictures of people I never met? And do your heirs a favor, label your pictures, and give them away to people who they might mean something to *before* you die.

Anyway, here is a representation of some of the pictures I live with. Unidentifiable all, and if you recognize any of these people, feel free to email me or leave a comment. I’ll make sure you get the pictures.

This is a picture of a baby. I do not know who the baby is. I like this picture
because of the chair. Paul says “It’s a normal chair, Kim”, but I don’t think
so. I think it looks like some funky ass doctor’s chair or something. It looks
like an “institution” chair to me. Or a wheel chair – doesn’t it look like some
elaborate wheelchair? And why do they have a palm tree in the corner? Was this
picture taken in California or Florida?

Another baby I can not identify. Although this one at least looks like it could
be someone in my family. This baby pretty much looks like all the identifiable
baby pictures I have. There’s a certain “look” to babies born in your family –
you can usually tell, “yeah, that’s one of us.” The problem is that there were
so *many* babies born in our family, this could be one of a hundred. Really.
There were 18 kids in my mother’s family – 9 boys and 9 girls. And they all had
bunches of kids themselves. I have *hundreds* of cousins. This kid could be any
one of them. There is the clue that this photo was taken at “Vogue Studios” in
Burlington, Vermont. Not much of a clue, but a clue nonetheless.

A picture of a band. I don’t know the band, or the people in it. Although they
were snazzy dressers. I’m not sure exactly what kind of music they would be
playing. The middle guy looks like he’s going for a George Jones look, with the
little bow tie thing, while the guy on the right looks like he’s going more for
the old “Gary and the Playboys” effect, with the sweater and the dockers. This
schizo attitude of the band has definitely affected the drummer, though, he
looks shellshocked.

This is one of the “pictures of animals I never knew”. And I do feel lucky I
never knew that cat on the left. He looks like a mean fucker.

Now these people look like they are having a really good time. Could be because
of the number of empty beer bottles on their table, could be because that guy
has decided tonight is the night he is going to strangle that woman and then
suck her blood. But I have no clue as to who they are, what they were
celebrating, whether or not they had hangovers the next day, and why anyone felt
the need to capture this moment.

Okay, I admit it. I love this picture. I’d like to get it enlarged. I look at
this picture, and I expect that kid with the banjo to come popping in from the
side of the picture, sit himself down on the steps and start picking out
“Dueling Banjo’s”. I have no idea who these people are, and frankly, I don’t
want to know.

Okay, what the hell is this? Who is Edmund Lowe, and why do I have some
autographed picture of him? It’s not a postcard, as I first thought this must
be,  it’s a picture, but I don’t know why anyone would have this.

This is one of the tintype pictures I have. I know this picture is of some of
my relatives, I’m just not sure which ones. I haven’t gone back through my
genealogy stuff and tried to figure out who would have had daughters about this
age in the correct time period for the picture to be taken. Mostly because I
don’t know the correct “time period” for this kind of picture. I’ll research it

But this is the stuff I am talking about. Pictures of animals, people, bands, parties and backwoods families that I have no way to identify. What the hell should I do with these pictures? Throw them out? I look at pictures as a kind of “irreplaceable commodity” and I hate to just get rid of them, but I really hate storing boxes and boxes and boxes of these things when I know I’ll probably never be able to identify these people or these places. So what’s the consensus? Keep them and hope someone comes along and says “You know, my father played in a band that was kind of goofy, they all dressed funny” and I can say “Hey! I have a picture of them” or wait until someone comes along and says “My lifelong dream has been to have an autographed picture of Edmund Lowe” and I can say “Hey! I
have one of those!” Or should I just ditch them and never look back?


8 Responses to “People I Never Knew”

  1. Estron said

    Kim, the Internet Movie Database ( has an entry for an actor named Edmund Lowe. From studying a few photos available online, I think there’s a good possibility your photo is of that guy.

  2. Well, if you’re anything like me, sometimes you struggle for an idea to write about on your blog. I’d make the “random photos” a running gag, if it were me. Then you’re at least putting the pictures to some use.

    And amusing me while I eat lunch, which is pretty much the purpose of the internet entire.

  3. So far I haven’t struggled to find things to write about. Crazy shit just seems to happen around here.

    I have considered posting the photos once a week or something – you’re right, it would put them to *some* use. And there’s so damned many of them.

    And, of course, I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to amuse you.


  4. Zannah said

    There’s a picture of the actor Edmund Lowe on Wikipedia (; looks like the same guy.

  5. Veronique said

    I love the dueling kitties photo. I don’t think a kitty photo is ever wasted.

  6. I can send you the picture!


  7. Carrie said

    I have never laughed so hard. The cat picture is a treasure. The paper photograph phenomenon that culminated in these boxes of random images is coming to a close. We will be passing down digital files that no one will ever look at because they lack a physical presence. I hope you keep all those photographs and make your grandkids take them when you pass on. There is valuable cultural info in there, and some pretty funny shit as well.

  8. DT said

    Hi Kim,

    Just going through your hilarious archives. I do have a guess about the strange chair, since I have a similar one. It is an early recliner, mine was patented in the 1880’s and it came from my grandfather. The footrest in front slides out from under the seat when you want to use it. The arms pivot backwards when the backrest is tilted back. Denny

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