Photos of a woman’s 1959 wedding are long lost. Now the 85-year-old has recalled those memories.
A Texas woman whose wedding photos were last seen nearly five decades ago was able to pass them on to her granddaughters thanks to an auction, social media sleuths, and an act of kindness.
Wedding photos were taken by Harriet Galbraith in 1959 in Washington, D.C. She was only 21 years old at the time, modeled for John Robert Powers, and was engaged to be married.
She always thought it would be nice to have her photo taken at Bachrach Studios, she told USA TODAY Thursday morning.
The Bachrachs were a family of photographers who had previously taken photographs One of three Abraham Lincoln photographed at Gettysburg, and the studio was the place to go if you wanted your portrait encapsulated in time.
“I called my mom and she came over and we went there,” Galbraith, now 85, told USA TODAY. “I never asked for a price…it took me a year and a half to foot the bill to go to such an amazing photographer.”
She wore a strapless dress from Christian Dior, studded with pearls and long, elegant gloves. The photos were placed in frames that were sold by the now-defunct Miller & Rhoads department store, Galbraith told USA TODAY.
They remained part of the family’s personal collection until they were lost during an estate sale in Lynchburg, Virginia. She remembers last seeing them in the late 1970s.
The photos did not resurface until January of this year, when a woman bought them for about $5 at an auction in Brooknell, Virginia, about 80 miles southeast of Roanoke.
Sandra Poindexter, retired nurse and author Who bought the pictures saw a name recorded on the back of one of the pictures: Harriet Elizabeth Marshall (Galbraith).
She posted the information online and after social media users did some research to help her, she was able to forward it to Galbraith, who now lives in San Antonio, Texas.
“I thought my photos were gone forever, and I was very disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to pass them on to my granddaughters and my family,” she said.
She is now able to keep the photos in the family and give them to her granddaughters.
The photos were given to the bride’s granddaughters
Galbraith, the bride in the photos, received the photos in the mail on Tuesday and couldn’t be happier.
She is grateful to both Poindexter, who purchased the photos, as well as Donna Reichard, who sent Poindexter the model’s information, making the return possible.
Galbraith said the photos ended up at the auction because her mother owned them. Once her mother died, these items came into her sister’s possession. Unfortunately, her sister couldn’t find the photos, and once she got older and moved into a retirement home, she sold the property.
“While the property was being sold, she came down with the flu and stayed in the bedroom and never saw anything that came out at the sale,” Galbraith said. “She lost those photos for several years. She never thought about them again and I never asked her about them again.
The woman who found the pictures was just looking for vintage picture frames
Poindexter, who found the photos at an auction in Virginia, said she was looking for old picture frames at the time.
She bid on a box of picture frames and got first choice out of the items on the table. The frames that were Galbraith’s photos caught her eye.
“Before I got back to my seat, I was looking at the pictures and I thought, ‘Wow. This is amazing. This woman is beautiful.’ I wondered who she was,” Poindexter recalls. “I could tell they were professionally done and there was something special about them.”
She decided instead to keep the photos in their original frames and search for the woman who was depicted in them. I posted about it on January 15.
The post was shared in a group called Live in LynchburgSocial media users took to the comments to post information they found online about the woman in the photos.
The woman who first contacted the bride with the photos found her within three hours
Donna Richard lives in Lynchburg and is part of the Living in Lynchburg group.
I saw Poindexter’s post on January 16. She often searches online for people who have had a positive impact on her life and reaches out to send them cards and tell them.
When she saw the post about Galbraith’s photos, she started looking for them. She found the 85-year-old within hours.
“I found a hard lump,” she told USA TODAY Thursday afternoon. “There was a deed where she sold her house in Virginia and moved to Texas.”
She started messaging people who might be related to her. She also found a phone number for a possible relative. The man turned out to be Galbraith’s son, who said his mother would probably love to reach out and get pictures, so he gave her Richard’s number.
“It was about 10:00 at night…so I didn’t think anyone would call back that night,” Richard said. “10 minutes later, she called me.”
The pair had a great conversation and talked about the photos as well as the dress Galbraith wore in them. It meant a lot to Richard, who said the 85-year-old reminded her of her late mother, Arlene Wade.
“My mother would have been 85 if she had been alive, and it just so happened that the anniversary of my mother’s death was last week,” Richard said. “It’s as if he was meant to be talking to Harriet Galbraith.”
Once Richard got Galbraith’s approval to transfer her address to Poindexter, she did so and the photos were on their way to Texas.
The model and late husband met at an event they attended with other people
Galbraith said she met her late husband, who was known as Jack, at an open house in 1958. They each attended with different people. Someone invited them to an open house for a three-story apartment.
“I had a date from the University of Virginia,” Galbraith said. “He was a philosophy student and we had nothing in common… It was a blind date.”
Jack was there with a young woman he knew. As Galbraith looked around on the first floor, she remembered feeling like someone was watching her. She looked around and saw Jack with a smile on his face.
“After a while, I went up to the second floor and there was that person again, smiling at me on the other side of the room. Finally we reached the third floor and he came to me.
He introduced himself and asked if he could call her sometime. When he introduced himself to Galbraith, his companion gave his name.
“Just a minute, honey,” he told his date before turning back to Galbraith. “Now, what’s your number?”
She laughed as she recalled the event and asked, “Isn’t that terrible?”
But still, something forced her to give him her number, so she did.
“He told me I was beautiful every day”
She added that the couple married the following year, had two children and remained together until his death in 2016.
During their time together, they lived abroad due to her husband’s government job. They had a son and a daughter. Their eldest child, a daughter named Elizabeth Ann, died at the age of 16 of meningitis.
She said it was difficult, but they managed to live a beautiful life together.
“We have had 56 wonderful, happy, loving years of marriage,” she said. “He would tell me I was beautiful every day even though I looked like hell. He was so sweet and he was so smart.
Although he served in the State Department as a diplomat and a CIA officer, his first love was journalism, his wife said. He also loved drawing.
When he died in 2016, the couple lived in Virginia and invited their son, Galbraith, to move closer to him in San Antonio.
“I just packed my bags… and brought my three dogs and cats and here we are,” she said.
The Virginia woman is always searching for treasure at estate sales, thrift stores and auctions
Poindexter, who bought the photos, said she loves going treasure hunting at auctions, thrift stores and estate sales, and has been doing so for a few years.
In fact, wedding photos aren’t the only fun discovery I’ve made.
“Recently, I actually found a vase worth hundreds of dollars at Goodwill and paid $4.99 for it,” she said, adding that it is labeled as a piece by French artist and World War I veteran Camille Tharaud.
She said the vase just jumped on her.
“I caught it quickly,” she said. “I had no idea what I had in my hand. I had no idea until I got home and did a search for it… I’m always on the hunt for treasure.
My newest treasure find, Galbraith’s photographs, has put a smile on many people’s faces. She said she was happy to be a part of it.
Galbraith said Poindexter and Richard are amazing women for what they did for her family.
“I made great friends with both Sandra and Donna,” Galbraith said. “They are just great people who have followed through on all of this and so I appreciate that very much.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: An 85-year-old woman reunites with her lost wedding photos from 1959