#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Oops

I’ve been thinking about this topic all week. Maybe too much, because my oops happened today (Sunday, February 5th, 2023).

My husband decided it would be a nice day for grilling, so we invited my mom over for lunch. Before he fired up the grill, my husband threw some yard trimmings in the burn barrel and lit that up, too. The weather was nice. Everything seemed perfect.

When my mom arrived, she walked to the back yard carrying three photo albums that belonged to her mother, Willie Stevens Cook. I sat next to her on the bench, but we don’t have a table outside. When we grill, we just hold our plates. So, I brought out a cardboard tray for her to set the albums in, and she held the one we were looking at in her lap. There were quite a few loose photos in the front of the book, and as I was looking through them, I flipped one over to see the names, and it had my great-great grandmother’s name on it. Right now, I don’t remember if it said Mollie Muterspaugh or Mary Muterspaugh or Grandma Muterspaugh, but I had never seen a picture of her.

I turned it back over and stared at it for a moment. She was wearing a black long dress with sleeves that were puffy near the shoulders. She was standing next to her adult son Billie Stevens, and one of his daughters, I think it was my grandmother, but right now, I can’t remember for sure. I was focused on Mollie Muterspaugh. I could feel myself tearing up, I was so happy to have it.

But I set it aside with the other photos, and we continued going through the album. At one point we stopped and set it in the tray with the others and ate. Then we took the albums in the house to finish looking at them. Once inside, I began to set aside some photos that I wanted to scan before my mom left; I knew I didn’t have time to scan them all today, and I have several albums here already that I haven’t gotten to. We finished the third album and I went back to the first album to look for Grandma Muterspaugh.

The photo was gone. I went through all three books. So did mom. So did my husband. We went to the back yard and walked the entire yard. I took the flashlight out, even though it was still daylight, and looked again. I retraced our steps in the house. I looked under the couch. Tim and I went back out after dark, aiming our brightest flashlights again, thinking that it would catch the white of the paper. It’s just gone.

My greatest hope is that it will somehow turn up, that it is in the house here and somehow fell behind something. My greatest fear is that it somehow ended up in that burn barrel and is nothing but ash. I’m just sick about this. I think I should have told my mom that we couldn’t look at the albums outside and that I should have put them in the house immediately. As I looked at the picture I thought of pulling out my phone and taking a picture right then, but the scanner was inside, and I was going to scan it after lunch, so it wasn’t urgent. Little did I know.

Maybe there’s another copy of that photo somewhere, or at least another picture of Grandma Muterspaugh. Perhaps the descendants of her daughter, Billie’s half-sister Lottie Muterspaugh Corley have a photo of her and I can someday get a copy, so I can see her once again. Just to have it in my hand, and now it’s gone, it’s just unbelievable.

Here’s some cousin bait – A photos of Lottie’s three children, George, Mabel, and Everette Lee Corley. We have other pictures of Lottie that are not yet scanned, and we’re happy to share.


About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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1 Response to #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Oops

  1. Eilene Lyon says:

    Oh, how heartbreaking! That’s not a good way to learn a lesson. I do hope it turns up.

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