As I sit here at my desk, there is, by my right elbow a single Globe Wernicke unit. On top, my modem; a charming little portable bookcase holding some of my favourite books; a little box from goodness-knows where holding years of (other people's) business cards, guarded by my stuffed kitty from Grafton ..
And inside. Volumes of photo albums, century old diaries, envelopes and folders full of memorabilia. Its the Gänzl family history.
Maddeningly, the earliest volumes are in German Sütterlin. In some of the later ones my father used German shorthand. The photos are pretty self-explanatory. Many are 1910s and 1920s holiday snaps, invariably featuring alps and unknown (to me) Austrian mountain villages. But great-aunt Minna was a professional photographer, and the family had a camera pointed at it regularly. And father caught the bug ... he loved and cared for his camera and it looks as new today as it did 70 years ago. Bellows and all.
Alas, who will care for camera, books, diaries, photos when I and brother John -- the last of the Gänzls -- are gone. A sad thought.
And a thought which came home to me today while strolling through the period photos on e-bay. In the stock of Arthur Bewick I spied ten or so pictures featuring the same surname. SAMPSON.
John, Mr and Mrs, Mildred, Fanny, Alice, Emily, Arthur ... Mr and Mrs were photographed in Northampton ... somebody's family pictures which lost their family ..
I decided to try to put them back together again.
Mr and Mrs Sampson -- he of Shoreditch she of Northampton.
THOMAS NEWNHAM SAMPSON b 11 December 1814; d 1905 aged 90
MARY née ATKINS d 1916 aged 90
Mr Sampson, son of John and Mary, was a wharfinger's clerk. But a consequent clerk. He rose to be the manager for the wealthy Alderman John Humphery at Hibernia Wharf, London Bridge, and to such purpose that the Alderman left him a bequest of £300 in his will.
It seemed impossible that Thomas's father could have been photographed, so I guessed that the old photo labelled John would be a brother. And I was right
[MARY] MILDRED b 9 Thomas Terrace Bermondsey 4 February 1851 d Hackney 1923. She worked as a governess at the rectory of Braiseworth, later as a teacher notably for the London Schools Board as a cooking instructress
ANNIE AGNES b 25 November 1854 d Chipping Norton August 1878
FANNY JANE b 27 May 1858; d Swindon 24 November 1956. Also did a bit of teaching, but seems to have got along without work
ALICE MARGARET b 5 October 1863; d Hastings 30 September 1951 m Joseph Godfrey NICHOLLS, solicitor b 1871; d 11 October 1958// son Joseph Anthony Sampson NICHOLLS 19 January 1906- Chorleywodd 10 January 1992, dtr Margaret Ivy Mary NICHOLLS d 24 November 1990. Grandson Peter Anthony NICHOLLS (b 22 September 1939).
EMILY MARIA b 25 May 1860; d Hastings 1951 aged 91.
ARTHUR NEWNHAM SAMPSON b 23 June 1867; d 13 Frederick Street 26 May 1898
I wonder why Annie and Arthur died so young. And which sister was photographed with young Arthur ... and ...
I don't want my family's photos and diaries .. and my decades of letters home from London, Monte Carlo et al, carefully stored by mamma .. to end up on e-bay. It was enough to stumble there upon a job-seeking letter from father's Uncle Fritz ... and letters to Onkel Max Hecher in his prison camp ...
The New Zealand national library isn't interested in me. I've offered the lot to them. But, alas, I'm a Jewish-Scotty Kiwi. And I don't have a tattooed chin.
So do I just burn it all?
Or tell Wendy to sell it all on e-bay ....