The other day my grandmother was at her country club with friends when a lady walked up to her, handed her an envelope and said "these belong in your family."
Inside the envelope were two wonderful little treasures:
They are both pictures of my great-grandfather, Elmer John Shinn. Written on the back of the first is "May, 1889" and his name followed by the studio information ("B.P. BATCHELDER. PHOTOGRAPHER. 133 EL DORADO ST. STOCKTON -- CAL."). Elmer would have been eleven at the time and was born and raised in nearby Woodbridge. The next picture is a bit harder to date, but I'm guessing (based on research I did on the photographer) it is from the early 1910s. All that is written on the back is his name and the photographer's information ("Photographic Parisienne. Edw. Belle-Ondry. Over Abrahamson's Store, Entrance on 13th, Street. Take Elevator. Oakland, Cal."). He never lived in Oakland so why he was getting his picture taken there is beyond me. His future wife was from that area but they weren't married until the early 1920s.
I'd like to get more information on the lady who gave these pictures to my grandmother. My grandmother gave them to my mother who in turn gave them to me and told me what she knew of the encounter (which wasn't much). The three of us will be Christmas shopping this coming weekend so I plan to ask my grandmother about it then. The fact that the mystery person had a picture of my great-grandfather as a young boy makes me think she is somehow related to the family. Elmer had many cousins and nieces and nephews who remained in the same area and I'm thinking this mystery lady might be connected to one of them.
(The above images are not to be reproduced or reprinted without the consent of the image holder, the author of this blog.)