What’s Back There?


Sometimes what you see in the background of a photo is more interesting and informative than what you see in the foreground.

You may see the location of items that are no longer standing or things that have been moved. You can see what homes and yards and other buildings looked like years ago. You might even be able to date a photo by the age of the cars in the photo, unless your family did not often buy new cars or drove classic cars.

When I was in the sixth grade our teacher, Mrs. Barbara Freeman, took our class on a field trip to downtown Willshire, Ohio. It was not a very long walk from the school to the downtown area. We viewed the old log cabin in the park and had a class photo taken in front of the Straubinger Hotel. The old hotel is no longer standing but you can see what it looked like in the background of this 1963 photo.

At this year’s Miller reunion some of my aunts and uncles were discussing where the farm’s windmill was located years ago. The photo below shows exactly where the windmill was.

Uncle Kenny with 4-H heifer, windmill in background.

Grandma Miller raised geese for extra money, but look in the background of this 1944 photo shown below. There is the horse trough and the windmill. Howard Caffee helped my Grandpa Miller pour cement for the horse trough and years later my dad and grandpa moved it south of the barn.

Grandma Miller 1944

Two of my cousins are posing for a photo in front of Grandma Miller’s garden in 1963. That fence and the garden are long gone.

Miller Cousins 1963

Here is a nice photo of some Schumms. Left to right are H.G., Rev. George, Louis M. and J.F. Schumm at the dedication of the new church in 1915. But look in the background. You can see the both the old and new churches at Zion Lutheran, Schumm.

H.G., Rev. George, Louis M., & J.F. Schumm, 1915.

This is a photo of my great grandmother Lizzie (Schinnerer) Scaer holding my aunt Amy. What nice gingerbread the house once had.

Lizzie (Schinnerer) Scaer & Amy Schumm, 1929.

Below is a photo of the men’s quartet and their accompanist at Zion Lutheran, Chattanooga. But look behind them. The church doors are wooden with stained glass inserts and stained glass above them. The church doors are now all glass. I barely remember those wooden doors and I wonder what happened to them and the stained glass.

Quartet at Zion Lutheran, Chatt. Howard Caffee, Ralph “Stubby” Bollenbacher, Rev. Carl Yahl, Paul McGough, Pauline (McGough) DeArmond.

This is a photo of my great uncle Pete Miller and his family taking a drive. In the background it looks like someone’s cows may have gotten out.

Pete Miller & family

This photo is most likely a photo of the Rueck farm in Oregon. The pine trees in the background indicate that the farm could have been located in the northwestern United States.

Rueck farm in Oregon

However, sometimes you just can’t take your eyes off what is in the foreground. Where did these Schumm Parochial School children get those costumes??

Schumm Parochial School

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