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Everyone except the man in the back row, second from the right.In the picture, he already seems separate from them—he is the only one not looking into the lens. It is also, inversely, a portrait of the Holocaust—a documentation of what was lost. “One of the ironies,” the son noted, “is that my father didn’t get along with his family. He never found himself.”The ancestral portrait was passed down as an heirloom, but to Lenchner, it is also a collectable—one of 15,000 other images that he has bought over the years.Maher Ahmad, an art director, owns four out of a set of 20 meticulously compiled family scrapbooks entitled We sat in Ahmad’s library in the Hollywood Hills as he carefully turned the pages.“July 20th 1906, Francis celebrated his third birthday by having a little party.The following children being present: Harold Smith, Ramona Duryee, Margaret Duryee...”“Christmas 1907. Table…”“Here is his Junior-Senior prom January 9th, 1920.“The photographs have lost their original meanings,” veteran collector Joel Rotenberg said.“Now they have room for the meanings we give them.”Still, remnants of original meaning persevere, in a scribbled note on the back of the picture, perhaps—a name, a date, a place, or even a personal reflection.Other than these scrapbooks, he left no trace.”Through my own inquiries, I was able to find out a little more about Francis Saunders Spon.
“It seems so incredible to me that a moment can be captured—that I can show up 50 years later and pick up an image and have this emotional response.
According to census records, he became a salesman, though what he sold is not mentioned.
In 1925, he married a woman named Isabelle who won prizes for her gardening.
“I look at a photo and I know someone is probably dead and that one day I'll be dead too.
There must be some secret of time held in these images.