Winter Days…

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  No flowers to shoot, and the weather is dull and grey, much as my mood.  February has sunk into my bones like the chill of a icy winter’s day and I long for some sunny weather to take hold.  There is much to trouble me, although I am not at liberty at the moment to post publicly about it.  Suffice it to say, the term black sheep cannot begin to describe my angst.

Yesterday however, I received a delightful email from my mothers cousin.  He is my first cousin once removed, I believe, being the child of my grandfathers identical twin brother.  But he happens to be in possession of some of my grandfathers old photographs, and I cannot begin to describe the joy I felt in looking through them.

My grandfather was a wiley sort.  He was a North Dakota farm boy, and being an identical twin with a hankering for mischief, you can imagine what sorts of things he got up to.  There was the story about he and his twin at the age of 7 or so climbing up on top of the barn roof, and staying there all day while they watched everyone below searching the fields for them in an increased state of panic.  Such were the things of daily life.  But as he grew older, he decided he was not content to be a “farm boy,” and after a rather stout disagreement with his father, he packed his bags and hitched trains to the west coast where he bunked with his father’s sister–who happened to be a teacher–until he graduated high school–he was 16 when he left.

He made his way to Fairbanks Alaska, where he worked cutting roads with high pressure water hoses.  He unearthed two woolly mammoths doing this work, and stopped long enough to cut a portion of the pelt from each of them to bring back with him.

I don’t know where he got into photography along the way.  But there are many pictures that are simply amazing.  The one I’ve included in the post he obviously didn’t take, since he is the subject, but it is quite interesting all the same.  The other photos are of things around Alaska that he found interesting.  I guess that is how he ended up doing reconnaissance in WWII; his love of photography.  I am saddened by the accident of his death.  His plane crashed upon a coral landing strip on Bougainvilla Island in the South Pacific, and the details of the crash are stomach turning.  My mother was not even born yet.

But I feel like the love of photography somehow made it’s way to me, passed down by the Grace of God.

John Fryslie05_17_45_130001-1

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37 Responses to Winter Days…

  1. andy1076 says:

    It sure was different times, these pictures are absolutely amazing! I think in some ways he is with your family in spirit telling you stories as you look at these 🙂

  2. longtooth says:

    Awesome pics, Arnel. An amazing grandfather.

  3. Beautifully moving post, to come from such rich historical backgrounds!

  4. I haven’t done much posting myself for quite awhile. The winter dark seems to have a hold on me. But I’m glad for your post and the wonderful pictures. It is fun to look back at the people we come from and find shared talents and interests. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  5. jmgoyder says:

    I love old photos like these!

  6. No wonder my dear Arnel, your pictures are so beautiful. He was very talented and I can imagine how joyful it must have felt to see these!
    Thank you so much for sharing them with us!

    • Thank you Marina. Old photos just have such a nostalgic quality. Although these were in pretty good shape, it’s nice to know you can clean them up with software if need be. I may be posting others as well.

  7. What a wonderful bunch of old photos!! I have been working on our family tree for quite a few years now, so I always love to see old photos because they provide us with a connection to family that we never had the opportunity to get to know :).

    • THanks! I love old photos and family trees. DO you use any software to record your family tree? If so, what do you use? It would be cool to have a family tree that would take images.

  8. westseventhfreelance says:

    Although I do not know the source of the darkness you feel, I reach out to say hello and say that there is a similar theme that has struck here, in Minnesota. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and these incredible photographs. I particularly like the shot of your grandfather on the porch..

    • Thank you w7thfreelance. And thank you for stopping by. One day soon I will tell the story. But it hasn’t ended yet, so I will hold my tongue for now. Minnesota has a longer winter than us, it seems you would be just getting to the middle of winter! I often wonder what it was like in the northern states in the early 1900’s, without benefit of forced air heating in such a cold climate. I’m sure the conveniences have softened us a bit. 🙂 By the way, that is my favorite as well. I feel like I’m almost there when I look at it.

  9. Eden says:

    very cool. What a great way to reconnect!

  10. Old photographs are great. The are telling stories and even look very interesting and beautiful.

  11. pattisj says:

    I am so glad you shared this bit of history, and a man with an adventurous spirit. He was a true pioneer. May you get a glimpse of SONshine through those dark clouds that hover. 🙂

    • Patti, thanks! He was a pioneer and a boxcar child, although that was a bit before the depression I think. Thank you for the good wishes. The great thing about clouds is, they have to go away sometime…

  12. robincoyle says:

    Great photos. He reminds me of Jack London. Hope you get out of your funk soon! Hey, send me your manuscript!

  13. sayvan says:

    A lovely tribute…. Your grandfather seems to have led an adventuress and interesting life and is a true hero as well. I am always intrigued by stories of a family history. We often look at things from a far rather then from within to see the lasting effects events can truly have on generations of a family. I see (from a quick google search) that your grandfathers resting place is in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, HI. Have you been to visit his resting place? Your love of Photography could very well be his way of saying, “we may never have met but I am always with you through that medium”. I truly believe such things exist.
    I am with you on the winter by the way…. hopefully only a few more weeks and we will start to see and hear the sound of the sunshine shining through….

    • Thank you Sayvan. And first let me say that I’m grateful to see you post! He was–actually his whole family was–pretty amazing. All but one of 9 kids fought in the war, or were active duty–even the girls. I love family history as well. Things were so different then. I’m forever imagining corded dial phones, (which we had when I was a kid), no hairdryers, (I remember our first handheld hair dryer), and the way people lived so much more simply. I just watched the first season of Downton Abbey, and I got the giggles when they first got electricity and were afraid of it, as well as the first telephone. His resting place is indeed in NMC HI. I have visited twice, and put flowers on his grave both times. He wasn’t interned there in the beginning though. They buried him on Bougainvilla and there he stayed for several years–I think it was 4, because it was felt to be too dangerous with the enemy too close to bring him home. I have the telegraph, and I believe there is a post of it on a web site dedicated to WWII Vets. I poked around and got the records for my mother–which turned out to not be a good thing, as the coroners report was rather graphic. But I was grateful to have his whole military history. It was a job tracking it down, that’s for sure. Up until I received his records, and I submitted them to a couple of websites, he was sort of nameless. So I was glad to have him added to rolls where I thought he belonged. Thanks for stopping by, and hopefully, it won’t be long before the sun comes out. 🙂

  14. While you seem to have more on your mind…the winter blahs don’t help and I am feeling them too.. Old photos are wonderful to look at aren’t they? Diane

    • So much. I do, and someday soon, when I have the liberty to speak, I will write the story…Until then, I will have to remain silent. The old photos were a great lift to my spirit. I think menopause must have something to do with it too. 😦 But then, this too shall pass…

  15. I’ve been missing your posts. Glad to see you back. I enjoyed this. the feeling of carrying on a legacy came shining through. Photography and twin boys. Wow. Thanks for sharing your words and the photographs. Stunning!

  16. Yeh life is drama, drama, drama I pray and try to focus on the great stuff and ignore the rest some days I am better at this than others. I often find myself wondering why everything has to be so much drama? Seems people like to keep things stirred up and they forget how precious each moment is.

    Soon it will be spring everything starts brand new in nature one more time. For now is the time to charge our batteries and prepare for all that GOD has planned in the new year.

    Each day is indeed a gift from GOD, I have learned each season has it’s place and time, I too long for some sunshine as the Pacific Northwest seems to be trapped in gray and rain.

    Signs of life are starting to emerge in my garden! I am grateful to not be in the east coast the middle of all that snow they are having. Simply lovely photos thank you for sharing with us.

    Take care and GOD bless you and your family two and four-legged! Melody

    • Such good advice. It is difficulty to remember when we are in the fire though. Here is hoping the weather clears up there. We are getting intermittent snow around here, interspersed with 60 degree days. Won’t be long now!

  17. I think your grandfather was a resourceful sort… maybe it was the mindset of those on both sides of the border – rules are there in a purely advisory capacity, not binding – that informed his actions.
    The photography is striking; I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, so to speak.
    As for winter, I’m a Michigander… we can have all four seasons in a three-hour stretch. If we don’t like the weather, we need only wait ten minutes – we’ll get something we like even less.

    • Ha ha. Love those places where the weather turns on a dime–but only to visit. 🙂 I used to live in OK, and they say the same thing there. The morning hail storm could easily yield to a 70 degree afternoon. I’m convinced its all the flat land. I think my grandfather was very resourceful, and a little bit stubborn. I often wonder how life would have been different had he not died so early in life, and my mother could have actually known him. Sigh….

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