Thursday, September 7, 2017

Back when Kansas was the Wild Wild West!

L to R: My Grandfather Paul Jones Lindsey (1895 - 1983)
my Great Uncle Samuel Gordon Lindsey ( 1893 - 1918)
and their friend Ira Heidleburg (1891 - 1953)

Until earlier this summer, I had never seen this mysterious photo, dating back to sometime between 1913 - 1915 in Southeast Kansas or Northeast Oklahoma. Shortly after it was taken, both Paul and Sam joined the army and went to France: Grandpa to the Argonne; and Uncle Sam to the Aisne - Marne, where he was killed in action in 1918.

Knowing how solemn the photographic expressions could be back in the day, it was hard to tell at first whether the picture was a practical joke or a formal portrait. It looks very serious but also very posed. I have to say I never saw my grandfather play poker or smoke a cigarette in his entire life! Maybe it was a set - up, perhaps at a county fair or photo studio. It certainly seems posed when you consider all the little details, such as their friend Ira's 2 fingers on the 2 coins! And the way Paul is showing his hand!

Yet another mystery -- can you see how the picture has been torn down the middle? That's how my cousin found it at the bottom of a box of photos when his dad (Paul's son, my mother's brother John) died. Was it torn accidentally or intentionally? We'll never know! My cousin Johnny thought that maybe Grandpa didn't want us to see him with a cigarette, even if it was fake. Who can tell? We're just lucky that somehow Uncle John was able to find and save both halves of the pic and that Johnny was able to gently repair the tear.

Most importantly, I love knowing that Paul, Sam, and Ira had that moment together! How remarkable that a century later, we are still able to see those sly looks that they are giving the camera! In their expressions, I see a resemblance between my older son Ben and his great - grandfather Paul, and my younger son Sam and his great - great uncle Sam -- after whom he was named.

When I showed my Sam the picture, he replied memorably: "Yes, it is a great picture and well worth saving. It's sad to think of all of the photos that have been taken that were then thrown away and no one ever got to see. (If a picture doesn't exist, did that memory really happen? -- that's why I love taking pictures!)"

P.S. Happy Birthday, Sam!
Be sure to take some pictures!

Upon another dress - up occasion ~ 1907
Samuel Gordon Lindsey (R)
with older brother ~ Wayne Wallace Lindsey (L)


  1. Your Sam is right about pictures.

  2. As a retired soldier and Marine, Marion and I have literally hundreds if not thousands of photos stored away in plastic tubs and boxes. Sadly, my kids have no interest in them at all. Ditto for family and friends. The sad fact is that sometime in the next 20 years or so, they will be discarded with no attempt to sort them out. They are fun to look at reminisce over.