Do you write your name on your belongings? We used to do this all the time back in the day. We’d write our names on our books, on our record albums, on our baseball gloves, and on just about anything we valued and wanted to keep. Our Moms even sewed our names into our clothing. I guess the idea behind the practice was that if you lost something whoever found it could and would return it to you. I think we’re more cynical today. Sadly we don’t expect the best from people anymore. Nor do we keep and value things for years on end. We buy new stuff. Out with the oldand in with the newest and the best, right.
But what about your cameras? Do you put your name on them? Well, Mr. Wolfram did. He printed his name and address in ink on the inside of the brown leather camera case:
Edmond T. Wolfram
249 Sydney Ave.
Malverne New York
TR. 5 SEC. 8
He also wrote TR. 5 SEC. 8 on the inside of the Instruction Book and neatly etched his name and a number on the aluminum plate at the bottom of the camera. How do I know and why do I care? Well, I am now it possession of his 1950’s era Pony 135 Model C. I didn’t exactly find it. I bought it on eBay, but still I wonder about Mr. Wolfram and how he and this camera parted ways. It obviously was important to him. Did he lose it? Was it stolen? Did he sell it and buy a new and better camera? Did he pass away only to have his children sell it after finding it on a back shelf in his closet? I may never know but I did do a search for him on ancestry.com.
I do a lot of work on ancestry and have my family tree here. Typically, the information available on a public tree is only shown for people who have passed away. Any living individuals included in your family tree show up as private and can’t be accessed by anyone who hasn’t been invited to view it. The same is not true for the records you can search on the site. The 1940 census is available and completely searchable. Obviously, there are people living who were enumerated then and if you know their names and where they lived, you can find them along with their address and other family members in the same residence. You can also search selected high school and college yearbooks for a person’s name and if you’re lucky you may get a photo or at least a listing and a class year. There are other databases where you can find living people such as U.S. City Directories, which are mostly scanned phone books, and U.S. Public Records Index, 1950-1993, Vol.1. Even I show up in that one. Privacy concerns? Nah, these are public records. You may think where you lived and when should be private, but that’s just not the case.
So what about Mr. Wolfram of Sydney Avenue in Malverne, New York? I found an Edmond Wolfram in the 1959 Malverne High School Yearbook. He was in Homeroom 316. In the homeroom photo he’s wearing glasses. His hair is parted on the right. He looks neat and he’s smiling. It’s not a broad smile. It’s quite subtle but it’s a smile nevertheless. Does he look like the kind of kid who would write his name on his camera. Youbetcha. I’m pretty sure he’s my guy.
What else did I find? Not much He may have moved to Texas. That’s it. I have to idea if he is still alive but I certainly hope he is. Wherever he is I’d like him to know I’m taking good care of his camera. If he wants it back, I’ll get it to him so spread the word.