Yes, I've got ancestors of my own. Boxes and boxes of them, actually, in great unsorted masses of photos dating from tintypes to Polaroids to JPEGs. Why, then, can I not resist buying other people's orphaned ancestors in stoop-sale troves of ephemera?
Well, with these folks, it was obvious. Where else, for one dollar, could you find such a picture of family likeness and contentment? They're not quite the seaside-fun types, it is true, but they're game for some nautical breezes--and they're together. And what a heart-melting bunch they are: Dad with his Teddy Roosevelt vibe, Mom and those two sweet, open-faced sisters ("Don't worry, dear, no one thought I'd ever find a beau either, and then along came your father!"), and then the slightly raffish brother (or could he, perhaps, be Hermione's treasured beau, along for the outing?)
I tried to resist them, but the deal was closed when I turned the photo over. No identification to solve the mystery of their identity, but there was this:
Funny? Yes, but maybe true at a deeper level. What makes an "unusually good group picture" of our families? No one is glowering; no one has teeth gritted in forbearance; no one, we hope, is missing. There are no clouds on the horizon, and the day stretches ahead for them to enjoy.
How this gem wound up in a shoebox on President Street in Park Slope, with dozens of other anonymous snapshots sifted down from six decades, I have no idea. Whoever they were, I hope they had many more happy years and good times. It is fun to launch them onto the Internet, like a message in a bottle.