Mysteries of the Old Photo Album (part one): Snap Shots of a Life Well Lived

To Peter Cherney,

I couldn’t let it happen. I COULDN’T. Last month I saw this tattered old photo album for sale at a flea market amongst other old postcards and albums at a vintage stand.

Those things always catch my eye. WHO are the people and places relegated to the past, memories to be bought, and bargained for, and repurposed for some project.

But this album caught my eye. And when I came back today, I bought it. I HAD to.

Peter, you deserve better. I can tell you served your country in the navy. I see postmarks from the 1940’s, addresses to your unit in San Francisco, a tattered piece of cloth stamped from the naval hospital at Pearl Harbor.

And I see so much more.

Letters from Mary. Clearly she was the love of your life. That one letter from 1943 where she apologized for using your five dollars of birthday money. She took your little boy to a baseball game at Wrigley field. She talks about the peanuts and popcorn. “What a son we’re raising” the letter says. And that other letter where Mary says she’s sending you three dollars so you can buy her postage and supplies. “You better get pen and paper and sit right down now to write some letters to me.”

There’s a Western Union telegram.
“Sending $26. One for each year. Love”

I see pictures with your fellow sailors, pictures in the snow, pictures with your family, pictures of a life well lived.

How this album ever ended up tattered and broken and picked over and relegated to a flea market, I will never know.

I am hoping people will share this message and that someone reading this knows Peter or Mary, or their family.

Peter’s legacy, his service to country, his love for Mary, their family, deserve more.

Pete Wilgoren



About Pete Wilgoren

Author of Dadmissions. Pete Wilgoren is an Emmy winning journalist, blogger, and author writing about parenthood, life, and other stuff
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