My grandmother loved to show me her photo album. She showed it to me many times when I was a youngster, and she continued to do so until she no longer could explain the dozens of pictures she had taken of our family.

There was one photo, however, that she cared about the most. This was a picture taken in Edison Park in June 1912, a few months before my mother was born. There are three people shown: my great-grandmother and my two uncles. My uncle Gene is 4 and my uncle Hubert is 2. The photo was taken on the prairie next to my grandparents’ home. My great-grandmother has a hand on the shoulder of each boy, and my grandmother told me that the reason the boys are smiling is because they are wearing their first pair of overalls. They are so proud.

My grandmother once told me that when she first looked at this photo in 1912, she wondered what kind of men these little boys would grow up to be. Would they be good men? Would they make my grandparents proud? Would they be successful? Would they be happy?

They did grow up to be good men. Even though they had the usual problems many of us have faced, they were able to overcome these difficulties and make their respective marks on the world.

My grandmother told me she and my grandfather worried every day when my uncles were serving overseas during World War II. Whenever the doorbell rang and my grandparents weren’t expecting a visitor, they feared they were about to receive a telegram from the War Department bringing tragic news. This never happened.

Whenever my grandmother heard Vaughn Monroe sing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” on the radio during the Christmas seasons of 1942-44, she would weep. Well, her boys made it home unscathed before Christmas of 1945.

Gene divorced in 1946 and came to live with us in Oak Park in 1949. He lived with us until his untimely death in 1961. Hubert lived with us from 1949 to 1951 when he married for the first time and moved to Chicago. He divorced in 1954, but he married again in 1958, and he and my aunt remained in the city.

When Hubert was living with us, my grandmother would occasionally show the picture from Edison Park to her sons, and they would look at it carefully without saying a word. Once I asked my grandmother if she and my grandfather were pleased with the way Gene and Hubert turned out. She replied in the affirmative.

I have the photo on my desk, and I see a loving grandmother and two happy, innocent little boys who do not know what the future holds for them. As I look at the picture, of course, I know what the future holds for them, just as I know what the future holds for our three small children when I look at a photo taken when we lived on South Scoville Avenue in the 1970s. 

My wife and I are very pleased, too.

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