THE LOST, THE FOUND AND THE PRICELESS... There are some material things people would run back into house fires to save.
Like the family pet and the family photo album. There was no fire, but a few months ago, a mysterious water-stained brown envelope ended up in Larry Chartrand's mailbox on Youville Street.
"For Myrna, Lorraine and Valerie," someone had written on the outside. "Thanks for the pictures (wish I could look like that in my Bathing suit now) and yes, Lorraine it did put a smile in my face. Love Aunt Sheila."
Larry had no idea who all those people were or how the envelope ended up in his mailbox. Any more than he recognized any of the couples and young children in the enclosed black-and-white snapshots that dated as far back as the 1940s. The images were classic old-time Winnipeg, as were the typically dressed and dimply cheeked little girls posing with their dolls and stuffed rabbits and doggies.
Cute little Myrna, Lorraine and Valerie appear to be sisters who -- judging by the dates on the backs of the photos -- are all in their 60s by now.
The only hint of a last name comes in one tiny photo (seen above) with just enough room on the back for the date, "1947," and a description:
"Lorraine in the potato patch on Grampa Howarth's farm."
Not sure what else to do with them, Larry tucked the envelope and photos away and then waited in hopes that whoever placed it in his mailbox would return.
Of course it could be that the brown envelope was dropped -- hence the water stains -- and a passerby placed it in Larry's mailbox because his was the nearest house.
In any case, when no one showed up at his door to claim them, Larry sent them to me, thinking maybe I could locate the family and return the priceless pictures.
"I'm just completing 15 months of work on my own family history," he wrote in the accompanying note, "so I can easily imagine how valuable these photos are to someone."
I know you're out there somewhere, "kids."
UPDATE... The owner of the family photos has been found. More on how they may have gone missing, and the joy of their return in Wednesday’s Free Press.
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PEOPLE AND PLACES... The Fort Garry Hotel is turning 100 and managing partner Ida Albo says it's going to be a year-long celebration. The dates and details will be announced in a Free Press supplement on Dec. 8... A belated congratulations to Charlie Coffey and Lloyd Axworthy, two men I admire greatly, especially for what they've done for aboriginal people and education in general. Coffey, a retired Royal Bank executive, was honoured last month as the 2012 Duff Roblin Award recipient. Axworthy, the University of Winnipeg's president and vice-chancellor, was honoured by former Grand Chief Phil Fontaine at a pipe ceremony where he was given the name White Thunderbird Man. But you can call him Dr. White Thunderbird Man...
Former Free Press publisher Andy Ritchie, now in Toronto as CEO of the technology firm DoMark International, will be in town Wednesday on business. He said he'd be at the Pony Corral downtown at 6:30 p.m.: "I'd love to see all my friends"...
Whatever happened to John Mohan, the former CEO of Siloam Mission and most recently of the Health Sciences Centre Foundation? At last report he's operating a consulting firm for organizations, particularly non-profit ones. He's also writing a blog -- A Nickel's Worth of Free Advice -- on his Watershed Consulting website...
As a kid in Killarney, he was known as "Melody Mel," because he sang his way to and from school, but Mel Dagg was better known to the readers of the Free Press sports pages as our outdoor columnist for 33 years. He died accidentally last July, but his full obituary didn't appear until last month, two days before what would have been his 81st birthday. As I read it, I was struck by these melancholy words from his family: "Mel's only regret upon leaving the Free Press was that he did not have the opportunity to say goodbye and thank you to his many loyal readers. We, his family on his behalf now would like to say thank you to all of you for your many years of support."
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THE LAST LAUGH... The Grant Park Cinema was doing beyond boffo box office business on Saturday, what with the lineups outside and inside for the new Bond movie, and the latest Steve Spielberg opus, Lincoln, selling out, too. Which is why I laughed when I saw a Facebook-posted portrait of Lincoln, accompanied with these words:
"Lincoln is doing well in theatres... Historically this has not been true."