A Picture’s Story

Sandra Lyon Moore, Lake Placid, New York 1971. Note the large white purse.


Where’s my purse? Over the years I have heard that question countless times from my wife. I am amazed at how quickly and often she can forget where she has placed her purse. The above picture is a reminder of a misplaced purse. The image is of my wife taken when we had not been married a full 24 hours yet. She is standing outside the Charcoal Pit a restaurant in Lake Placid of which we are about to dine. I would ask you to note the rather hefty white purse she is carrying. The purse was stuffed with gift envelopes of cash we received at our wedding reception which we had just departed a few hours earlier. We had well over a thousand dollars in the purse, which in 1971 was a fair amount of money. To have the same value today, you would need about $6000 to equal the value of that purse in 1971. It was after a delicious meal and after we were back at our hotel room that perhaps I heard the statement, “Where’s my purse?” for the first time in our marriage. A frantic search was made of our room with me running outside to search the car, but we did not locate the missing purse. It was then we realized we must have left it in the restaurant. With thoughts of the possibility that all of our wedding money would be gone, we drove back to the restaurant. However, we were fortunate the purse which my wife had left on the back of her chair had been turned in with all the contents intact.

The above picture which sparked my memory of this adventure was found in a box of photographs that I am trying to organize. Somehow it was the only picture from that time period that was in the box, and I have no idea how it found itself there. It had no names or dates on the back. So you see even with all my preaching I still have much organization ahead of me. The fact is that is if someone was going through all my pictures say 50 years from now they may have no idea who was in the photograph and most likely no idea of the date or the story behind it. As genealogist and family historians we spend countless hours researching our past and too little time making sure our current family stories are not lost. Take some time to organize a few pictures write up a story or two; our descendants will be thankful.


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34 Responses to A Picture’s Story

  1. Peter Klopp says:

    I could tell more than a hundred similar stories about my wife’s purse. But I must also admit that I have been guilty of missing keys, wallets, etc. Best wishes! Peter

    • chmjr2 says:

      Thanks Peter. I believe we all have done things like this many times. Every now and then my wife and I will see people rushing back into a restaurant to claim left behind items. When that happens we always talk about the misplaced honeymoon purse.

  2. Amy says:

    I admit that there have been many return trips to restaurants to retrieve a forgotten purse. In fact, I now try to avoid taking a purse if at all possible. But then I am just as likely to forget my coat, my phone, my sunglasses, and so on….

    • chmjr2 says:

      I think we can say the same about all of us. My wife still has a good size purse but our daughter does not carry a purse at all. Perhaps because she has watched her mother all these years.

  3. poorlucie says:

    Hi Cousin Sandra! Hilarious story to me because I constantly misplace my purse too! Ever since Jan 1, I have been writing biographies of our ancestors almost every Sunday. I am now up to biography #36 which will be Lewis Monty ( son of jean Monty, son of Francois Monty). I am quite surprised that I have been enjoying this writing about my ancestors. I have been doing genealogy for 48 years and have never written down these stories until this year! I have been including photographs with the bio’s, but alas I do not have one of Lewis Monty. He was in the 118th NY so I will have to do some online searching to see if I can dig up anything. Karen

    • chmjr2 says:

      Hi Karen, I would suggest the book “The descendants of Jean Monty 1693(?) – 1755” by Jeanne R Monty. Volume one and two. You will find much information about the Monty family.

  4. This is a great story that resonate s with me, and a lot of us! You are so right about our need to share our own stories as well! So good to see this!

  5. dlpedit says:

    Old photos are, indeed, a great source for stories, whether genealogical, memoir, or fictional–but they require that all essential facts be included if they are to be most helpful. What we think we’ll never forget has a tendency (especially as we age or the sources of the information pass away) to get lost. Great reminder to document everything while we can!

    It’s interesting how you nearly lost all your wedding-gift money that first day. The same thing happened to one of my daughters–except when she went back to the restaurant, the purse was gone! She had lost the gift money, driver’s license, Social Security card, even birth certificate. It was a year-long nightmare trying to get the latter two items replaced, especially since her last name had just changed!

    • chmjr2 says:

      What a awful thing to have happen to your daughter. I still remember clearly how I felt when we thought the purse was lost for good. We were lucky that a honest person found the purse and turned it in.

  6. This is a great photo and the retelling of the story is perfect: concise, filled with emotion and a definite presence of the interaction between you and your wife.

  7. guilty here of forgetting my purse or pocketbook (pocabook)….wonderful story and great reminder to label our pics and add a side note or story to go with them. Thanks for sharing this ~ Sharon

  8. Eilene Lyon says:

    You’re right about the need to get the photos and stories organized. I just never seem to find the time!

    • chmjr2 says:

      I know what you mean about the time. The one thing I do now is to make sure I take care of any new pictures right away, and work on the older ones as time allows.

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I sat down and wrote details on the backs of several hundred photos. Time consuming, but very helpful for people to come. Wish more of my relatives hadn’t assumed I would know who they were!

  10. Beth says:

    Good example of taking time to tell the story of a photo!

  11. KerryCan says:

    Hi, Charlie–it’s good to see you back! I’ve been going though old photos, too. Yikes. There are so many of them! Right now, I’m doing a “rough cut” and throwing some away. Then I’ll go back, categorize, scan, label, etc. It’s a daunting job, but important, as you say!

    • chmjr2 says:

      It was a very busy spring and summer. I was up your way just a week ago visiting family and doing a little research which proved very fruitful. It seem you have a good system for your photos. I am still trying to make a dent in the ones I have.

  12. You’re so right. I feel a bit of a panic as I wonder if our professionally taken (high quality) family photos have anything other than a date on them. Digging them out to check will be a chore. Reading through comments here, I also think I should leave instructions on what’s important to keep so my millennial children with minimalist tendencies have some direction. Thanks for the push, Charles. I always come away with something valuable from your writing.

    • chmjr2 says:

      Instructions would be helpful. I am trying to arrange a few photo books to be printed by a service like Shutterfly. This may be a way to help pass on the photographs.

  13. It could be just a photo of a woman with a purse, otherwise, it is hilarious in its common touch.

  14. chattykerry says:

    Wow – $1000! I doubt we had that much when we married. I remember my husband earned 4000 GBP per annum. We were happy and poor!

  15. I greatly enjoyed this post!

  16. bvillareal says:

    This is wonderful advice. We sat down with my mother and did this before she passed away and I’m so glad we did. We have recordings and pictures we can put together to make a wonderful family story.

    • chmjr2 says:

      When you have a story and a picture to go with it is family history gold. I am glad you got to do this in your family. You have family treasure to pass down to many generations.

  17. Dr B says:

    What I usually get is “where’s my phone” from her😂😂. The only way it can be found is for me to ring her!

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