Sometimes the Internet just amazes me. You send something off on the interwebs and you never know where it's going to end up. It's a lot like the Plinko game on The Price Is Right. Who knew that game had been around for 30 years. But I digress.
Remember a few months back when I wrote about the photo book I created on the life of Wayne's great-great-grandfather, Martin Vaught? I knew that post would appeal to family members who'd be interested in what I'd uncovered about his life. I hoped it would intrigue creative people with the idea that you could make a photo book with only two real photos. And I trusted that his colorful account of his trip to Texas to rescue his widowed sister and her family would simply entertain everyone else. The printed result was beautiful but then that's what I've come to expect from Shutterfly.
I hadn't thought a lot about that book since I tucked it away on a shelf with some other family history stuff until a week ago when an unfamiliar name showed up in my email. It was from a man named Wayne in Columbus, Ohio, introducing himself as my cousin. As it turns out, he's actually my Wayne's distant cousin...the great-great-grandson of Louisa Vaught Shelden, the sister Martin Vaught went to escort back from Texas. Columbus Wayne's great-grandmother was on that wagon too; she was five-year-old Mary Shelden.
While I'm not sure what he searched for to get there, he'd found the story of Martin's adventure and he was thrilled. And, of course, I was thrilled that it reached someone who had a connection to it. But I got far more than I gave; he sent me this:
It's a picture of Martin Vaught as a younger man. Looking at the clothing, I'm guessing it was Civil War-era but that's all it is...a guess. It's so cool because the only other photos we had were taken late in his life. Columbus Wayne sent pictures of his great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother too and they are treasures as well.
A few days later a different message arrived in my inbox. It wasn't nearly as personal but it was related to a connection between photos and strangers. Becky Siegal-Harty started a Facebook page to link people who found pictures and other personal items sent skyward in last week's Illinois tornado with the owners who lost them. Maybe this struck home with me because my Wayne marched through fields collecting that very thing in the tornado that struck El Dorado when we were kids. Or maybe it's because my brother Jerry and his family live just twenty miles or so from Washington, Illinois, the epicenter of the damage. At any rate, I love everything about this idea. You can read more about it here.
Finally, there are strangers I don't want to connect with and that would be the blog spammers. Apparently I'm not the only one "enjoying" their company, judging from my friends' comments on Facebook. Although I hate doing it, I've turned on the word verification to see if that slows them down. Rumor has it though that they've found a way around that too and moderated comments are the only answer. I hope not. If reading the squiggly letters is too much, you can always email me with your comments or leave them on Facebook.
Today, however, I'm choosing to celebrate those strangers who connect in a positive way. And when they do...well then, they aren't really strangers any more, are they.