real estate
July 15, 2007
Family has lost its history; did you find it?

Byron Crawford
The Courier-Journal

If your home was being threatened and you had only 15 minutes to save your most prized possessions, what would you reach for first?

Many of us would save the family photo albums.

That's why the following classified ad in "Antiques & Collectibles" struck a chord with Barbara Morris, president of Louisville's Smooth Transitions LLC, who handles moving and downsizing for seniors:

"Irreplaceable family photo album. Dated late 1800s-1950s, inadvertently given to St. Vincent DePaul Society on Preston St. in May 2007. Embossed brown leather cover w/leather cover and bindings . Approx. 12 x 16 in. Reward, 502-458-6438."

The album's owner, Ann Klarer of Louisville, says the album still has not been found.

It was passed down from her father and mother, Joseph and Kathryn Perrone, Klarer said. Her father's family had emigrated from Sicily to the United States when he was 5. Many of the more than 200 photos were of their family back in Italy. The first picture on the inside cover was a large photo of a band called The Nightingales in which her father performed when he was young.

There were photos of Louisville's DeNunzio Produce Co. trucks on which her father worked during the 1930s before starting his own business, Perrone's Fruit Co. There were photos of the 1937 flood and of many relatives and friends.

One of Klarer's cousins, who had borrowed the album to copy some photos of her mother, had it in the back seat of her car when she donated several items to the St. Vincent DePaul Society. A worker who helped unload the donated items mistakenly removed the photo album as well. By the time the mistake was discovered, the album was gone. Klarer's cousin was, of course, devastated.

Barbara Morris said she often turns up dozens of photo albums, jewelry items and other keepsakes that may have been misplaced or forgotten among the household contents when seniors relocate and downsize, or when their household possessions have been hurriedly packed or discarded by family members. She said some people deal with estate dispersal issues by tossing most everything into a dumpster.

"When we find treasures that people have overlooked, we always think, 'They didn't really intend to leave this,' " said Morris. "Sometimes we end up with a whole pile of things in a house that we say to the family, 'Are you sure this is something that you didn't want?' "

Among the many forgotten photos and other heirloom artifacts that Morris remembers finding were an opal necklace and earrings in a box with a tender note from a husband to his wife. She once found an envelope containing snapshots from 1968 of John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Paul McCartney in a casual pose in front of the Beatles' Abbey Road Studio.

"A lot of history and memories get discarded each year because of lack of resources -- if the family comes in and doesn't know what to do with things," said Morris. "A lot of times people are doing this under stress and time constraints, and there's no way they can put their hands on all the things that we go through."

If you can help Klarer locate her missing family photo album described in the advertisement above, please call her at the phone number listed above.

And for more information about Smooth Transitions, call Morris at (502) 897-9332 or go to www.movingforseniors.com

Byron Crawford's column appears on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Reach him at (502) 582-4791 or bcrawford@courier-journal.com.

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