Rescuing the Past

old photo family

I’m not sure if I’ve actually rescued the past, or just delayed the inevitable demise of some photographic relics.  I think it’s the latter.

A few years ago while living in Moscow, I found myself wanting to buy all the old photos which I came across in flea markets and other places that sold second-hand things.  There were a lot of photos, even suitcases full of them sometimes.

children playing
Girls in a playground

It made me sad to think that people no longer wanted these old photos of their ancestors, family holidays, photos of their babies and children, and many other memories that should, in my opinion, stay with the family.  Instead they were for sale in second-hand markets.

How sad.

I’ve got a box of my own photos back in Australia, as well as some here with me in Bulgaria, and some I’ve left in Moscow with a friend because they couldn’t fit in my luggage when we had to leave Russia in a hurry back in March.  I hope one day that I can get all my photos back together in one place, and that my daughter will treasure them and not try to sell them in a flea market.

So, I bought some photos in Moscow, but I couldn’t buy them all because they were actually really expensive.  People were selling their old family photos, or someone else’s photos, for the same price, or actually a little bit higher, as it would cost to have them printed in a photo shop.  I just couldn’t pay that, and so with great reluctance I left a lot of them where they were.

serious girl
A very serious girl

But I did manage to buy some on a few different occasions, and I felt such joy looking through them when I got them home.  I wondered who these people were, and what their stories were, and where the photos were taken.

I wondered about their families, and I wondered why their photos were now in my possession.

family of 3
A family photo

Of course I can never know the answers to these questions.

The saddest part about this is that I had to leave them all behind when I left Moscow.  I just couldn’t take them with me, I had only one suitcase and I couldn’t even fit all my own photos in it. 

I feel like I abandoned them. 

But I did scan every single one of them, front and back (when there was something written). I hope that I will keep their memory alive by sharing some of them with you.  I’m really grateful for the technology we have to be able to scan photos and other precious mementos.  And I do look at these photos from time to time, just to keep them alive

So, here are some of my favourites. It was difficult to choose because most of them, if not all, are simply wonderful. 

I hope you like them.

woman on the beach
A day at the seaside
profile of a woman
Profile of a woman
men working outside
I don’t really know what this is – a garden?
grandma and grandson
Grandma and grandson
Rugged up for winter fun
A get-together with the boys
girl in flowers
A girl playing in the flowers – 1984
beautiful woman
What style!
formal woman
A formal shot
happy child
Happy child – 1959
out walking women
Out walking – 1952
at lake ritza
At Lake Ritza 1957 – Озеро Рица
young boy
A gorgeous young boy – January 1954
grandma and baby
Lunch with grandma – 1959 (the baby was 1 year and 10 months old)
4 siblings
Four siblings

~ Cheryl

Author: Cheryl

I'm an Australian woman who is now living in a village in rural Bulgaria. I lived for 12 years in Moscow, Russian Federation, working as an English language teacher. My current loves are my husband and my vegetable garden.

18 thoughts on “Rescuing the Past”

    1. Hi Leanne, I didn’t know about Death Photography – how interesting! I also thought it weird that people sell their family photos, but I guess they have to get some extra money any way they can. Or they just might not be as sentimental as us Aussies are. I love reading your comments, you always manage to give me something to think about – so thank you. 🙂 x


  1. Hi Cheryl. I always look forward to your posts and this one was especially intriguing. My favorite photo is of the children on the playground. That see-saw looks like a lot of fun! I hope you’ll be able find old photos in Bulgaria. I think the flea market in Sofia should have some. I remember we had a lot of fun shopping there. Maybe you could even frame some of those photos for your new home. I’ll pin my favorite photo, maybe under treasures from the past. xx


    1. Hi Christina, I also love the children on the playground. How simple life was back then, and how easy it was for children to have fun. How things have changed since then! I’m sure we’ll get to Sofia some time, probably early next year when the weather starts to warm up again. I can’t wait to hit the flea market there! 🙂 x


  2. You’ve got some good ones but it really is sad when you think about it. We see them from time to time at auctions and estate sales. I can’t help but get emotional while at an estate sale thinking those pics and household items belonged to someone else and now here’s their life being sold off with the buyer rarely having no idea of the stories behind the pieces. I feel this way mostly about pics, artwork, needlework, and old quilts. Thanks so much for linking up with me at my #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 18, open until November 26. Shared.


    1. Hi Dee, yes, it’s a little sad. I’ve never been to an estate sale, I think I’d be in tears the whole time. I often visit second-hand shops and am constantly amazed at what people give away, it’s a shame that some of these things don’t stay in the family. We’ll never know the history of the people in the photos, but we can create our own stories and keep them alive a little bit longer. Thanks for stopping by, enjoy the rest of your week.


  3. I loved this post and think it is amazing that you have rescued them and preserved them in some fashion. Of course the writer in me thinks it could be great fun to make up stories about them back stories, I suppose, since you do not know the real stories. But what you have done is also a way of honoring life in its broadest definition (imo). Always glad to see your posts, even when I am playing “catch up” Blessings, Michele


    1. Hi Michelle, my heart skips with joy when I see that you’ve commented on one of my posts. I’m so glad you loved this one, it’s one of my favourites. I might just take up the challenge of writing stories for these people, but if you want to do it yourself please feel free! I’m also in the process of ‘catching up’ as I seem to have lost the whole month of October due to a little depression (I think that the past 7 months have just caught up with me) – there’s a few of your posts that I want to comment on and will get to that in the next day or so. Life is so complex at the moment, isn’t it? Thank you for stopping by and wishing you a lovely week ahead.


  4. Love these old photos! We just inherited a bunch of old family photos when my father-in-law passed away this summer. It does make you wonder about the stories behind the pictures. Scanning them is such a wonderful idea! Thank you so much for sharing.


    1. Hi Laurie! How wonderful to inherit family photos! I know where all my parents and grandparents photos are, but as I’m on the other side of the world I’ll probably never get to see them again (and I’m sure that there are many that I haven’t ever seen) – unless someone in the family scans them and shares them with us all. It’s a big job to scan them, but there are some places that you can pay to have them all done. I hope you enjoy discovering the past with your father-in-laws old photos. Thanks for stopping by, have a great week!


  5. Cheryl, I hope you get all your photos from different countries back with you one day. The black and white photos always have a nostalgic feel to me. Thanks for sharing some of your favourites with us. I hope you’re safe and well in Bulgaria #senisal


    1. Hi Natalie, I’m not sure I’ll get all my photos together again, but what I would like is that they all get to my daughter in Australia so that she can enjoy them, and maybe ask me about some of them before it’s too late (I know we don’t like to think of that scenario, but it’s reality). I’ll do my best to make that happen when the international post becomes reliable again. So glad you liked the photos I rescued. I also love the old black and white ones, they have some kind of magic! Yes, thank you, we’re safe and well in Bulgaria. It’s lovely here, a big step back, in terms of active lifestyle, from Moscow, but I kind of like the idea of living in a village and being an old grandma with a veggie garden. 🙂 Nice to see you again, hope you’re taking care. x


  6. It saddens me when I venture into opportunity shops/second hand shops to see boxes of photos. When working in an op shop we would come across them donated family dont want them anymore? I looked after books and would find family photos used as bookmarks. I often think of my photos what will happen to them? Will my daughter want them or will she just dump them in a bin or an op shop bin? To hear that in Russia people sell their family photos. Is it because they need the money. If so thats even sadder. Im glad you have some of them to keep them alive somewhat. Thank you for sharing. #SeniSal


    1. Hi Bree, yes, it saddens me too. I don’t remember seeing this a lot in Australia, although I’m sure it happens. Yes, I think that they’re selling them because they need the money, pensions in Russia are too low for the old people to survive on. I also don’t know if my daughter will want all my life’s photos when I’m gone – I have a feeling she will, but I don’t know for sure. I will try to rescue some more when I have some money to spare. Thanks for stopping by, hope you’re having a lovely week.


  7. I was thinking exactly the same thing. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what kind of a story three different people would come up with just by looking at these photos?
    The novel I’m writing is set in the 50s-60s so I’m delighted to have stumbled across your post. Old photos fascinate me. Like you I can’t help wondering the history behind them.
    I’d never have thought to look for old photos in antique shops or flea markets. I know where I’ll be heading as soon as life gets back to normal!


    1. Hi Gloria, sorry for the delay in getting to you here. 😦 Thanks so much for visiting Born in a Car! How interesting that you’re writing a novel! What’s it about, if I might ask? I’ve often thought about writing a novel but I just don’t have the patience, I much prefer writing shorter texts. Yes, I would really love to know the story behind these old photos, but of course we never will. I like your idea on getting different people to come up with story, I might try and do something like that in the future (I have plenty more photos for this kind of exercise!). I’ll also be looking out for more photos when I can visit other flea markets (hope it won’t be too long!). Thanks again for stopping by, and hope to see you again. 🙂


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