photograph showcase

Photograph Showcase: Seeing Grandpa Costello’s Smile

COSTELLO, John and Mary family 1950 Chritmas time
John & Mary Costello Family, 1950, Spokane, Washington

Do you see that happy Grandpa sitting front and center with one of his sweet grand-babies kissing the top of his head?  Do you see that beautiful and happy smile on his face?

Well so do I!!


I have seen two other photos from this particular sitting.  In both of them, Grandpa Costello is not looking at the camera.

So imagine my delight when my sister brought this photo to me.  For the first time ever, I was seeing a photograph of my Great Grandpa Costello looking at the camera and smiling.  Really smiling.  <3

But I have to give credit where credit is due.  See that lovely, happy woman on the back row on the far right?  That is my grandaunt Barbara.  She sent my sister home with a bundle of photos for me to scan.  This little treasure was amongst them.

I am so grateful to Aunt Barbara for sharing and especially to my sister for making an impromptu visit to our Aunt.

If you’ve been reading along for a while you may remember that I discovered 7 seconds of video of Grandpa Costello earlier this year.  In that video Grandpa is definitely smiling, so this photo isn’t the first time I’m seeing his smile, but it is the first high quality photo with his smile.

I think that the important lesson in all of this is that we can’t ever consider our efforts “done”.  I’ve talked to Aunt Barbara several times over the years.  I’ve visited her in her home and interviewed her and Uncle Dan.  I’ve exchanged letters asking questions.  But this past Spring I specifically sent her a letter asking if she had any photos of Grandpa Costello that I might scan.  Because of my letter, she had gathered a small group of photos and then had them all ready to send with my sister when she visited.  Her bundle included several photos of my Great Grandpa Costello that I had never seen.  That my mom had never seen.  These photos may have NEVER made it to my branch of our tree if I hadn’t thought to ask Aunt Barbara about photos of my Great Grandpa Costello.

So, keep asking questions of your oldest living relatives.  I thought I had gleaned every detail I could from Aunt Barbara.  I hadn’t.  I wonder what else I might learn the next time I visit her?


Happy Thursday, I hope you think of a great question to ask one of you oldest living relatives today!




ps – Because only three family members in this photo have passed on, I am not labeling this photo here.  If you are a family member and want the names, shoot me an email.  I will add a detailed description of the photo in my private Ancestry tree.


17 thoughts on “Photograph Showcase: Seeing Grandpa Costello’s Smile”

  1. The one recurring question I always ask is “How did you do it?” whenever I think of the world turmoil in past decades. My late grandmother gave me the best answer: “I woke up and did what I had to do for those depending on me.” Which is a good piece of advice I recall whenever I want to sleep a day away or avoid reading the news.

  2. I love this photo! Looks like the baby is trying to kiss Grandpa’s head. Adorable!

    I always love seeing new photos of family members. Just recently, a distant relative shared the first photos I have ever seen of my 4th great grandparents. It was so special!

    1. Thank you Katie! That is really special. One of my favorite “family history photo” moments was when I connected with my Grandpa’s 1st cousin and discovered that there were photos – lots of photos – of our shared Scottish line. I had been researching that line for several years and knew and loved those ancestors so well. When I got to see so many of their faces for the first time, I cried. The top of my piano is covered in photos, but most of them come from that exchange.

  3. Wonderful photo, and I can appreciate your excitement! I sure wish I had more older relatives around to ask questions, and I wish even more that I had been smart enough to ask those questions when those relatives were still alive. I am just lucky that my parents are both still living, but as the youngest siblings in their families where their mothers were younger siblings also, that limits what they themselves know and remember.

    1. Thank you Amy! Descending from a few “youngest”s in a row does greatly reduce the family stories/memories that are passed down. I will say that despite really starting my genealogy journey at the age of 21, I still wish I had asked certain questions of certain people who are now gone. No matter how much you do ask/accomplish, there is always more that could be done. Just like no matter how many questions you solve in your research, the question list only gets longer. We genealogists are the most loving, and greedy folks around. No matter how much we get/learn/inherit etc, we always want more! 😉

  4. Of course he is smiling, look at the wonderful family he has gathered around! Great post & great reminder that those around us may hold more family treasures than we realize. I will be seeing my oldest uncle today. I think I’ll ask him about photos.

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