Two weeks ago I met this mysterious gentleman. I was drawn to his sturdy yet work-worn demeanor, and the way his large frame settled in that chair. His suit was made of a coarser fabric, strong but unpressed. It had softened a bit over the years from use. He wore durable work shoes. There was nothing fancy or pretentious about him. His beard was trimmed for the occasion, perhaps by the town barber earlier that day. His large hands looked strong from many years of hard work, and his stern gaze seemed to show he was a man of determination, clarity, and sincerity. I wanted to find out more.
His photo is the first that I really noticed, the one that said we’ve all lived our lives here, long ago. We’ve all laughed and cried and went to church on Sundays and maybe had a little too much to drink on Saturday nights. We’ve been in love and cared for sick babies. Some of us stayed on the family farm and some of us worked in town.
The shop owner was pleased that this photo was one of my choices. He had sorted all of them and noticed that this one had information lightly penciled on the back, something that I completely missed. There were notes that the photographer made to touch up spots for the final print. More importantly, the name and address of the mysterious gentleman was revealed, showing that he lived only a few blocks from the store where this photo had been waiting in the box.
Anywho.com lists 14 folks with his last name in the same town. I’m fairly confident I would get results from a small ad listed in the local paper. It would be ideal to get this gentleman back to his family but I’d also like to learn a little more about him and those fields, now long gone. On another trip north I may stop in at the city clerk’s office to look through records to find out the exact years he lived there. Perhaps do some amateur genealogy research to trace down his descendants. And at some time this summer I’ll be walking through that neighborhood, to see if his image outlasted his house.