The paper that I used for this lumen print expired in October of 1941. My mother was 7 years old in October of 1941. Pearl Harbor was a quiet military base in a unspoiled tropical paradise in October, 1941. It's hard for me to really get a grip on just how long this paper sat in its packaging until I opened it today.
I bought the paper as part of a lot on eBay, and I wonder about the path the paper has taken on its way to me. Did it spend years sitting neglected in some attic before arriving at an eBay auction or did it travel by a more circuitous route, changing hands time and again? I do feel that I know a bit about the photographer who owned this paper. The packages are precisely slit open at the end - no tearing of the flap in opening the envelopes. The interior envelopes are pristine, and often contain, in addition to whole sheets of paper, little bits and pieces that have been cut off and carefully saved. Some of the envelopes have notes written in a large and open, but neat hand. Clearly she - I imagine my predecessor to be a she - was meticulous in caring for her materials.
In one of the packages I found a negative for a family Christmas card. The image is of a young boy gazing at a candle. Does this indicate that my predecessor was a professional photographer, and this a negative created for a client? Is this my predecessor's son, now a man of 80 or more? The mystery will remain a mystery, but I like to think that she would be happy to know that her paper has fallen into appreciative hands. I like to think that she would approve the use I am putting it to.