Yesterday I spent a few hours spray painting some old frames that I’m intending on using to create a gallery wall (there’ll be more on that later). As I pulled them apart, I found this:
and I thought “What a lovely present, and how sad that it got consigned to an opshop, unwanted.” Almost instantly I was transported back in time, to some point in primary school (I can’t recall exactly how old I was), to when I had received a similar picture from my best friend.
It was a back and white photograph of four young girls all having a picnic outside together, and it had represented us (or so we had decided). I had hung it on my wall, and there it had stayed until I moved out of home. I can’t recall when I took it down, or what I did with it, but I suddenly missed that photograph, and all that it represented quite desperately. While I realise that I can’t cling on to everything that I own (much as I want to), suddenly I felt that by losing the photograph, I had lost a friendship. Which is even more ridiculous, given that (by some miracle or another) my best friend from all those years ago is still my best friend.
Still in a somewhat nostalgic mood, I took out an old atlas that I had purchased for the sole intention of cutting out a map of France. My husband is something of a map enthusiast, and when I told him about this one, he asked to have a look at it. Being the kind, acquiescent wife that I am, I obediently brought it inside for him to peruse before I sliced it open.
He had barely touched it before he decided it was an old atlas – old enough that I wasn’t allowed to slice it apart. I was beginning to feel as though the world had decided that tonight was the night I be bombarded with the past. And I was annoyed that my bargain atlas, the first one that I had found that was perfect for being sliced up, was being rescued (especially since I was already feeling as though I had failed to look after my photograph).
“See this,” he pointed to a section of Europe. “That’s the USSR, so it has to be after 1914. But look at this hooky part of Germany, they lost that after World War 2.”
As we continued our investigation, we found a map of the “known world”, which included a map from 1939. And nothing that we can find inside the atlas (including the countries and their names) can date it much later than that.
My husband is convinced that the atlas was actually published during World War 2 (based mainly on the fact that Germany is inconsistently depicted as both including Austria and not) and the fact that Taiwan is shown as belonging to the Japanese – after World War 2 it went to China).
The atlas has now been put away on a shelf and I have been convinced to not destroy such an amazing slice of history. Though I will be taking a photocopy of the map of France – at least until another map presents itself. And I am somewhat resigned to the fact that my photograph of the four, young picnicking girls is probably lost to the ages. I can only hope that one day someone finds it, and is taken on such a pleasurable trip down memory lane as I was.
Have you ever unexpectedly stumbled across a memento from the past?