DISCARDED THEN DISCOVEREDPosted on January 4, 2017
A few years ago I found a photo album thrown out to the curb in front of a demolished house. There was apparently no one left to care for all these mementos and no way of finding out who these people were. The photos were so precious that I wanted to preserve them in some form. I took some of the photos out of the album and surrounded them with bits and pieces of abandoned Buffalo – graffiti, empty houses and decaying landscapes. It was my attempt to pull the past and present together and to honor these unknown people.
More than 60 of the ‘Discarded Ancestors’ collages were sold – at 464 Gallery, the Buffalo History Museum and out of my studio. I recently had an exhibit of thirteen collages framed in recycled wood, at the Peter A. and Mary Lou Vogt Gallery at Bouwhuis Library at Canisius College. During the run of the show, two librarian/genealogists, Lisa Sullivan and Kathleen DeLaney, stepped forward and tracked down the owner of the album.
They discovered the name of the woman, ‘Eleanor’ on a photo envelope, as the person who owned the album. Tracking Eleanor’s surname, Weinzierl, Lisa located an obituary in the Buffalo News. Then, through “Find a Grave” she discovered the burial site in Mt. Calvary. It appears that Eleanor was born in 1927, the daughter of Frank and Crescentia. She was divorced, never remarried, but did have cousins at the time of her death. Her obituary mentioned her great love of animals. Since she never had children, there was no one to keep the family photos. Eleanor died on January 11, 2011. Her house was torn down a couple of years later. Thank you to Lisa and Kathleen! And thank you to everyone who ‘adopted’ the friends and family members of this beautiful Buffalo woman and kept her spirit alive.