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Found Things

I love finding surprises in old books from flea markets and garage sales. A little piece of somebody’s life, somebody’s story, left behind for me to wonder about. Maybe it’s a note written in the margin, a clue to a previous owner’s opinions. Sometimes it’s a bill, a receipt, a bookmark or a pressed flower.

I’ve never found an old photo in an old book, but I have nearly as much fun browsing the photos at Flickr.com. Flickr is a photo-sharing site, and you don’t have to be a member to browse. The pictures are tagged by category: sunset, Italy, family, weddings, cars, vintage, fashion, street scenes . . . you name it, somebody probably has a few photos of it.

My favorite category? “Found,” of course. This pool includes negatives and pictures that people found at flea markets or estate sales or even on the street. They range from antiques to pics that look as if they were snapped last week. I often wonder about the stories behind the pictures, and I wonder how they ended up in the “found” pool at Flickr.

For instance, there’s a picture of an old guy watering his garden in a three-piece suit, like my dad used to do. There’s another one of a portly gent sitting in a chair, beaming, with a Christmas tree behind him. Somebody must have loved those old men, but their pictures wound up at a flea market or in an estate sale or maybe in the trash until a Flickr member rescued them. The pictures have gone from being lost to being “Found,” online, for the world to see.

I just hope the people themselves weren’t as lost as their pictures.

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