I got this album in 1959. An inscription on the first page says that this album was given to me on May 18, on my Angel’s day when I was 1 year old. What a great gift! 60 years have passed, this photo album has been traveling with me, and my mom had preserved and saved it for me while I was away or couldn’t take it with me.
People who are old enough remember how we couldn’t snap a picture as many times a day as we wish.
Photo taking was a big event back then in Latvia. One had to prepare, get dressed and had to make an appointment. When one got to the photo studio, bright lights were turned on, arrangements made and quite a few pictures taken to get the best result. Photo film was developed, and later, we got real pictures on a real photo paper. Judging by quality, I must say some of these photo papers were excellent.
This year on Mother’s Day, I’m not celebrating, but looking through old pictures and thinking back in time when I was just a small kid in the world which I genuinely and passionately had come to love.
We lived outside a small town in Latvia, which was the Latvian Socialist Republic in 1961. I was 3 years old. I look at the picture and I absolutely do not regret that there are not many hundreds of pictures, but just one. That makes it a treasure. That makes it very special.
I can clearly visualize all blossoming trees and fields and the old building where we used to live back then. In my memories, I never recall my mom and dad that young. I always see them having fun with daily chores and endless duties because we used to treat work as something we value and love, not as a burden. I sit there in the middle. I can recall the dress I am wearing, the stripes were pink and there were kind of illustrations, and they had bright blue and light green color. Mom’s dress was sea green-blue. I cannot remember the color of dad’s suit. Well, it was 58 years ago. My mom used to wear many blue and blue-green outfits which she had sewn herself because her eyes were beautiful blue color, and it went so well with her light hair.
I enlarged this picture after I scanned it (I should have scanned more of these old pictures) and I realized that I have never actually seen my dad very young. I can imagine my mom was very worried before the photo session because she always cared a lot about all small issues and things. I believe she was a perfectionist, just as I have been for the most part of my life.
My mom and my dad were married for 48 years. My dad left us short time before their 50-th wedding anniversary! I think my mom was never the same very energetic and tireless, always busy with something person after dad passed away in 2005. No, I cannot imagine how hard that must have struck her. I think also when somebody has spent practically the entire life with some other person it is almost as if losing a crucially important part of oneself.
I do not smile on this photo, but I look like my daughter in later photos. I love my smart eyes and the very thoughtful look in pictures. People have always asked me to smile when taking pictures, but I am trying to have the kind of face with no silly smile on it. That’s how I like it. In my opinion, it is way better than weird and fake smiles.
I had a very saturated, mentally and physically balanced and good childhood. I spent it all out there, surrounded by nature, flowers, trees, fields, forests, pets and animals. I think I never left that place in my thoughts, in my mind or in my memories. I keep it alive in my paintings.
It was a great life without TV, internet and any social media. I believe, we had some ancient radio. We mostly ate only food we had grown in our own orchard, vegetable and grain fields and vegetable garden. We kept a few cows, and some other creatures. I loved chickens most. Nobody ever told me when we had chicken soup made from that chicken which was walking around the yard just a while ago. I wouldn’t have eaten it; that is for sure. We also rarely had any sweets, except jams we made and some home-made pastries or home-made desserts. However, working as much as my parents had to, that was rare and mostly on some special occasions. I do not recall any birthday parties or similar things. It must be that they were unimportant to me. They still are, in fact.
I spent most days outdoors. I helped whatever I could, that included gathering flower heads, leaves and roots for herbal tea, and I was weeding long rows of potatoes, sugar beet and other vegetables. When I was 5, I was weaving baskets, too. In the fall, we picked wild mushrooms, and that is still one of my most favorite things when I go back to Latvia nowadays.
I never stopped adoring everything that grows, but I also tried to draw multidimensional drawings. I tried to show that a table has 4 legs, and that was kind of difficult to reflect in my drawing. I never drew profiles or animated things like kids usually do. I tried from the first drawings to implement dimensions, perspective and values, even though, I had no idea how to do that. Well, I managed. My early drawings are not worse than the recent ones.
We did not have a medicine cabinet and any pharmaceutical products. Our medical supplies were all home-made and collected and picked up outdoors or grown in the garden. I do not recall going to the doctor when I was a kid. I don’t think we even had any pharmacy there, maybe in the central part of the town there was one. I never had or knew about any allergies and many issues which are so common nowadays.
I developed my own value system very early on. Honesty, respect and trust were extremely important constituents of it. It is still the same, although, it is 58 years after this picture was taken. As I go through more pictures, I might share a few other memories about life in Soviet Latvia more than half a century ago.
Well, I was happy where I was and things like anxiety, fear, depression, feeling of loneliness or being misunderstood, bullied or attacked never crossed my mind. It was a life absolutely perfect in its balance. Those times, we didn’t have even phone. Having no outside influence, like TV or internet, may have been the best part of it all because it is so much nicer to talk to people in person when they visit your place. It was definitely childhood with a capital “C”.
That is what I found today in the album I have had for 60 years. Thanks for reading!
12 thoughts on “The family album”
Great post Inese, and its nice to know your family, and the environment where you grew up, and come up to be the unique person you are.
Something, that strike me as some what odd, it’s the spiral of silence, people in America, and sense of privacy to talk about family in their blogs, or with friends, I am not in Facebook, so I can’t really judge what’s going on, but it seems like as if many choose to keep it away from their daily blogging.
Sure, they are exceptions, but many rather focus somewhere else.
Obviously many people are afraid to reveal themselves, giving too much information about themselves, and loved ones living on an environment, of danger where any information, may be used for no good purpose.
I guess that it is one of the maladies of contemporary living.
Aside from it, those who grew up in an age before the internet, and instant communication, we cherished the old family albums.
Personally, I inherited many pictures of my family, some as old as the very early Twenty century, that I keep to myself, and guess they are only important to me, my children seem have little interest, and very likely will be lost as soon as I am gone.
Sometimes I have run into batches of old pictures just scattered by the wind on the dust of the street, and figure some person has lost, or erased his family history for good.
A dear girlfriend of mine for some years, she had maybe two, pictures of her, from her past, and at the photos, not very good ones,
And I mean this is a person with a wealthy, and important family, divorced from a previous marriage, at the time I couldn’t understand why? She even got mad once when waiting for her to arrive, she catch me watching the movie of Barbara Streisand, and Robert Redford, ‘The Way We Were,’ she come at the moment when they were playing the song, and she immediately turned off the TV set, and she went ballistic for me to be watching the movie, I was baffled by her sudden outburst, about such trifle as watching a movie.
I was away years later when she decided to break up with me, she took my possessions and sent them to me, I was shocked to see all of our pictures we had, she didn’t kept for herself, a single picture of us, from the many we took. Then I understood of her lack of memories from her past life.
I guess she found them too painful. And maybe the reason many people stay away from old memories.
I enjoyed your post, and bringing back some of my own memories, good, or sad, I hold no ill feelings. within my heart. 🙂
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Thanks for your wonderful response comment!
Well, all in all, my life was very different from that one people have in America, that refers to Canada, too.
My dad and my mom are both gone now, and I am the oldest in our direct family.
I’m not afraid to share my story because I am always me and myself. I suppose, people who want to make some artificially improved impact on others are cautious. I do not share selfies or other pictures on Facebook or any other sites.
I find that blog is an extra private place, actually. First, most people do not read anything. They click on like from Reader so that I would go back to their site and clicked on like. Secondly, the dear people who will read (like you) won’t cause me any trouble.
I like my real photos and I go through them here and there. It is so different from digital pictures. Just like everything else: real is real.
I always looked good and very good when I was younger, so, I have no problem with how I look on pictures either.
The story about your girlfriend sounds just bad. I’d say weird and controlling behavior has never created good outcome.
I am also very different from any Canadian or American. It’s probably because of how I grew up and how I learned to do everything myself. I only cannot make shoes, but everything else, including renovations and even making furniture I can manage if I want to.
I find that those times when the USSR borders were not open to American imports, we were actually saved from disasters caused by artificial and chemical food as in the States and in Canada.
Up to 2000 or so until Latvia started to have to import such chemical foods, we had zero obesity there, none. I cannot recall anybody having any allergies while I worked at high schools for almost 20 years back there in Latvia also. I do not know anybody among my friends and family with any mental or memory issues. Therefore, I do blame for all health disasters in the States and Canada the way they put profits before health of their people and literally poison them.
So, I am really happy about the fact that I did not have to grow up in a lazy place like Canada. I find that people do not have any life skills here, and even common sense things are a big issue. I think that comes from too easy life, too, and lack of physical work, especially outdoor work. Gym is not going to ever replace feeling of usefulness and good-doing as it comes from real work when one gets their hands dirty.
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There is also different types of idiosyncrasies, being born on a different place and living abroad for many years made me realize, that from the get go, we are shaped by our upbringing, and different customs, you could said we all have a National character, given by the particulars, like Historical, and Geography, and Social environment from where we come from, the conditions you went through as you describe them, your family, your school, friends, etc.
All of that make us, who we are, it marks our personalities, and since these conditions are different everywhere, so we are, for good, or bad.
However every Nation has his good things, and the not so good, as for example coming back to my native country after over thirty years of absence, I can really notice, some of our bad habits, than in the past I was not aware.
In other words, I learnt something about ourselves, that if I had stayed here, very likely I would still be not aware of it.
And witness abroad their assets, and their weakness as well.
In my opinion, I had gained from my experience, and feel the more rich for it.
About my ex. I was surprised at her reaction at that particular moment, because she was highly educated, and never behaved that way before, so it surprised me.
She was a good woman, but I confess our different backgrounds, didn’t help us as a couple, for what I said above.
As the Germans call it, different Weltanschauung.
Possibly today with my experience, things could have being better between us.
However I have no regrets.
My life its what I have made out of it, not without some problems, or room for improvement, but generally I am satisfy, and in peace with myself.
Thank you Inese, hope you are well. 🙂
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Thanks! I’m fine and getting better.
The only bad thing is the packing and moving again in 2 weeks.
Well, it isn’t what they use to say that one disregards their past and just marches ahead.
Regardless of how much we love or hate it, it becomes our luggage for lifetime.
Traditions, geography, historic settings, habits and moral codes matter for sure.
That is actually the reason I would say that due to our differences we should never follow the same advice, use the same diet and so on.
This all matters.
It’s not that I am saying every Latvian is an ideal person. Latvians can be very stubborn, jealous and they also keep on their own as opposed to people who love being in a community and in a circle of their fellows from the same nation.
I am simply happy that I did not get damaged by absurd American dietary guidelines and by chemicals that come with our daily food. That is very damaging, so is the policy about improving everything with supplements which are just further damaging population. That is a subject for another post which I actually have written, but with the upcoming move and need for more art business, I just cannot get to it.
At some point, I must say I am a Latvian who resides in Canada, but that is as far as it goes. I don’t feel related to many things here. I do not miss Latvia either. I miss honesty, truth, trustful and clear relationships. I miss everything what is natural: starting from food and clothing and ending with paints for paintings.
I cannot stand the cheapness when there is no need for that. I’ve gone through different times and that involved not eating for times, too. Things were changing in Latvia, there wasn’t such an option as social care or support for quite a lot of years. I walked out of a hospital after spending there a year and I found a different place. Governments had changed and all the state system had changed. Since I could not walk at that time and about a few years afterwards, it was tough. My daughter was hungry, she was 12 at that time, and I couldn’t do anything. I could move around the room on crutches, but that was extremely painful. Red cross helped out that week, but starving and similar necessities lasted until I could somehow walk again. Yet, I was never cheap and did not become mean.
I’m watching people who arrive in a good class Mercedes or BMW, are well dressed, etc,. but they would hold off the line for just 2 cents. That is the type of cheap I cannot stand. I have good knowledge of how one has to be careful with the last piece of money they have. This is, however, a totally different cheapness that drives down economy. All this Amazon stuff, just because it may be slightly cheaper. Then people spend hours comparing prices. That is a lost time we are never getting back.
I like that Europe is much more classy in many regards. Quality or rather lack of it is terrible. That type of thing. I am missing tiny bakeries, tiny butchers and so on. Tiny cafes, especially.
I regret hearing that you encountered so many differences with your ex. Well, that can happen in any relationship. It does not matter how hard we try. It always takes two.
We have no spring here. Still some kind of cold and rainy weather. Unbelievable.
Thanks again, got to run!
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I am glad you are feeling, better. but I do not envy your moving, this last move of mine being the third in less than two years, just when I had more or less unpacked most of the stuff, and knew where everything was, here I am again, with most of the stuff inside boxes, and now with little idea where I can find x, or z book? Due to the rush in packing to be on time out of there.
The first moving it took me one month of preparations, the last one two days.
Not that I need another book to read, I mean I have plenty of books, to read on my table, computer desk, and night stand, but you know how it is, you remember something, that make you think about a particular issue, and you know you have such particular book, and want to go back to it, well if I do not want to the go to the process, of going through the heavy task of searching in many heavy boxes, and end exhausted by it, well you know how it is, specially because I am not feeling to be any younger, and get tired easily, and I do not want to tax my son only free day of the week, to help me organize my stuff, besides the many reparations the new place need, and he is helping me with, so I rather take it easy, and look in a box a day just to see, what I find there.
Usually I find other things, and not what I had in mind, but is alright, it helps.
Yes, we all go through hardship wherever we are that’s a given, the human condition.
Welcome to the New World, specially the Northern countries, like the US, and Canada, but there’s a reason for their cheapness, I use to notice that, and also kind of shock me, at first, but with the years I understood where they are coming from, its not so much the money, but the principle, they do not like to be taken advantage, or look like fools, like in the US that if they catch someone selling lets say an article for double the price, it can make the six o’clock news in TV, and the owner of the business has to apologize publicly, and in order to show its sincerity, saying that it was an unintended mistake , now he offer the same article at half the price, or he refunds the difference.
Back in my country noticed that every merchant offers the same article, for a different price, and even if most customers know whose merchant has better prices, and most people shop there, notice frequently, that it’s not always the case on every article, and you got to be wise to find a particular item you buy frequently, and buy it at the most expensive store for less.
Yes, this take time, that’s its precious, and sometimes not worth it, I know, but the US, and as you are confirming me Canada, as well, they have the idea, the customer, or patron is the one who is the boss, not the owner of the business, something that its different in my country, where, when you buy something, but you change your mind, you have not the option to return it, or get a refund, the customer has to be aware, of what he buys, and check products at the store before buying, because mostly has no warranties in many items. Meanwhile in the US, I have seeing customers get refunds, for spoiled fruits, like avocados, or tomato, who may go bad easy, in my country the merchants will laugh at them, and send them on their way, and with a good reason, here you have no excuse for not knowing fruit, or vegetables.
I am not in this particular issue in favor of the customer, but neither see the many merchants in my country as ethical, who its all about for them for making a profit, at the expense of the unaware customer.
A difficult issue to judge, because its mainly due to their particular way they were raised to be, by their own idiosyncrasy, or national characters, shape by use, and many years old customs, circumstantial to each place. In all honesty it took me many years to realize these differences are like National characteristics, and different ways to see the World, and one of the reasons why I made so few friends on half of my life there, now I got many.
Ironically in Canada, or the US as you properly mention:
“Absurd American dietary guidelines and by chemicals that come with our daily food. That is very damaging, so is the policy about improving everything with supplements which are just further damaging population.”
And agree fully with you on that issue, but its nice too see many people since the sixties, are being more aware of those issues, and in California as an example many farmer’s markets have appeared offering you organic choices, and many people campaign to change all that, but the nature of Farming Practices as big powerful companies still pretty much they dominate users’ consumption and the rules accepted by government agencies such as the FDA.
And yes the little shop, and bakery, you can find them also, in California, not as numerous, but with a clientele, who stay as loyal customers, again many have gone, specially bookshops, I arrived years before Amazon, and it was delightful to find bookstores everywhere, sadly now almost all gone.
As I said, I have no regrets, and I am happy with myself, and how my life turned.
The weather here its also a little bit on the side of cold, and even had rain to the last days of May, something totally unusual.
Best wishes, and my regards for you Inese. 🙂
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Well, that is just an update! It was a good reading, too.
About cheapness I meant that people are holding up lines at Walmart or Sobey’s or other chain stores where there is not point to argue about price with the sales person, they cannot do anything about it. I also meant the personal cheapness when the person is just so tight that even when they have lots of money they don’t allow themselves anything.. It’s also so that all money we save on food accepting cheap or unnatural things we will spend on medications.
I know a lot of people who said: I have to wait until I have paid off the mortgage and they I start art classes. Meanwhile, some of them got so sick, got cancer or other issues that there is no way now they can do anything at all. The same goes for simply enjoying life.
California’s farmers markets looked so great on TV. I saw this some two years ago or so. I was envious. The choice and freshness of fruit and vegetables was enormous. It’s not the case here where you see some rotten or half dried out fruit which is never ripe and some not good looking vegetables. We have very few farmer’s markets, it’s usually quite a drive, they also charge at least 2-3 times the store price. I want fresh, clean and good, so I have to grow my food.
Talking about Latvia, they have countless farmer’s markets, too, just like California.
I think living in the States might be still better. We have mainly big and very big stores and catering places, very often chains. I have already forgotten how it is to have a decent pastry because Canada does not know how to make them. Diary and any bread is bad. Bread is just some sponge which goes stale in 1 day. I sometimes wonder: why couldn’t they just go to Europe and learn how to make cheese, pastries, cakes, sausages, cold meats and smoked fish, how to cut meat and similar things?
I rarely go to any stores. Summer is very short here, updating summer clothes is not necessary. Winter and nasty weather last long, so then you just wear coats.
It’s good that people think about health, but it’s bad they find all the wrong advice on the internet. It’s all profits and nobody cares about your health.
My nurse just came by, just to talk, and she told me a real horror story about a young woman who is mistreated terribly. The doctor had performed 15 surgeries in 1 day! Sounds like bad outcome is what could be expected. Some doctors here take on so many shifts and walk-in clinics and personal patients that it is becoming quite pathetic.
California is nice, I’ve been reading a lot about it recently.
Moving is not what we want. I have 2-week window this time, so, we will move gradually. It’s close, that’s even better.
Take a good care about yourself and thanks!
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Pay the mortgage story, that sounds familiar, one thing you may not know, lots of people they seem to have a good life, a nice house, nice car, etc. But actually they owe even the clothes they wear, and heavily in debt!
And cannot afford stop working, or take a vacation, or do anything else.
Cheers, Inese. 🙂
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I know how high debt levels are.
Who knows what’s better? Not to have a place and be debt-free or be sinking in debt and have a place? It probably depends on one’s attachment to possessions, too. I think people who are moving much lose that feeling that things and belongings are the most important part of life. However, try to lose my books or paintings, I’d be mad.
Yes, it always depends. I believe I have taken the route that doesn’t make one profitable, but extra satisfied with things I do and create. It would be great to pursue both.
You are also somebody who puts great value on reading, mental enrichment and intellectual prosperity. We have a choice, and life most likely becomes what we chose because nobody can have everything, not even the multi-billionaires. One has to take one or another, and there is always a price we pay for that in real life. How far we accept moving away from straight path and how much can we disregard some things, that’s a question of conscience and being honest to oneself.
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Yes, that’s about it.
Family albums have roller coaster of emotions. On one side we cherish our childhood and on other side we miss people in those photographs. You have explained it so well.
Let’s connect over wordpress ! Following you right away ❤
I actually posted this after my mom passed away last year.
Although, my own daughter is already 40 and my grandsons are adults, it was an extremely painful experience. Our family was very close, even though, I moved across the ocean when I was almost 50.
It is a lot of memories, time has disappeared, and it feels sometimes there wasn’t anything, but a dream and it has ended.
I generally do not live in the past, but as I get older, and I’m quite up there, I just see more and more relatives, former friends, classmates, university friends and so on passing away. Until there is hardly anybody left, who shares the same memories.
I do sometimes follow back and sometimes not, it depends on the other blog.
Thanks for the comment!