— photo realism

The heart-wrenching story behind these found photos taken over 60 years ago

When writer and filmmaker Jack Jewers, 34, saw a mysterious old roll of film on eBay marked “exposed / undeveloped / 1954,” he bought it for fun, not expecting much. But what he found was absolutely incredible. 

I guess if I’m honest it was just a sense of adventure,” Jewers told HelloGiggles. “I honestly didn’t think there would be anything at all on the film. At very best, maybe some faint images, or even just streaks of light. But, on the other hand, what if. . . ?”

 When he got the roll of film developed at a local store, he pored over them with the store owner. “She was as intrigued as I was, so we opened the package together,” he explained. “The first photo we took out was an extremely dark, scratchy, monochrome image of a railroad track. Initially I was just excited to discover that there was anything at all on there, and expected them all to be much the same.”

But then, they saw the second picture (above). “The two of us actually gasped,” he told HG. The image was sharp, “like it had been taken yesterday,” he explained. It featured a beaming middle-aged man with a cigar in his mouth and his hands on the shoulders of a boy, “looking like the proudest dad or uncle in the world.”

This was the beginning of a grand and mysterious adventure, a glimpse into the past. “Each new photo revealed a new person, a window into the private life of a family from a distant time and place,” Jewers told us. “And they all looked so happy. There was the lovely old couple, dressed in the style of an even older era, looking like something out of the Magnificent Ambersons. Again, they were smiling broadly.”

But the photographs that piqued his interest the most featured a man and a woman, both in their early 20s, standing outside of a school (below). “She was very beautiful, and he was dashingly handsome,” Jewers said. “They had clearly taken these photos of each other, and their expressions spoke volumes to me. They looked like they simply adored one another. They seemed—in a quiet, everyday, timeless sort of way—very much in love.”

All of this begged the question: Why were these images abandoned? Why would such gorgeous family pictures be tossed aside? After Jewers posted the photographs to Facebook explaining the story late last week, the post was shared almost 2,500 times, with commenters bouncing ideas off each other about the origins of these mysterious photographs. “One thing that several people picked up on straight away was that the photos looked older than the 1950s,” Jewers told HG. “The fashions, the cars, all suggested the late ’30s or early ’40s. After several commenters identified the young couple in the photos as Helen and Charles Weber, this confirmed it—for a tragic reason.”

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