Who on earth are these people?

A couple of years ago, my mother found an old roll of film in her house and developed it. She didn’t recognize any of the faces in the pictures.

Most of the guests that she and my stepfather have hosted in their home over the last 18 years have been family members. So she passed the pictures around at Christmas after she found them. Still, no one recognized the people, the flowers, the welcoming goose or the bell.

I found the pictures again today. I’ve been trying to clear a few of the stray boxes of random stuff I have around the house. My husband asked why I kept them, since no one knows who these people are.

The images are so methodical and symmetrical. They were taken with such clear intent, meant to be put in a multi-paned frame or photo album and passed through generations. It seemed callous to cast them, negatives and all, into the garbage.

I’m also fond of the weird and rosy glow that the aged film gave their earnest expressions. I like the hint of a ponytail that sits on the androgynous Hello Kitty child’s shoulder like three shoelaces.

I also love a mystery.

By the time that the fourth or fifth family member looked at these and shrugged in utter confusion, I laughed for an unreasonable amount of time. I imagined all kinds of scenarios that could land a stray roll of film at our house, by way of somebody’s purse, luggage or briefcase. I imagined family members with unknown second lives and science fiction conspiracies in which these important faces were zapped out of our memory through some unknown technology.

There’s only one image that’s incongruous with the others:

For the sake of de-cluttering my cluttered home, I thought I’d put out this last clarion call to more distant relatives and the winds of the Internet to see if I can find out their identities and deliver the photos to the appropriate hands.

Any clues? Theories? Face identification experts?

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12 thoughts on “Who on earth are these people?”

  1. hmm that last picture kind of creeped me out. this is fun i wonder where they came from!

    here is my guess/fantasy.

    i think, someone in your family may have bought a used camera that had some film left inside.

    you should try to find out how old the film is. there must be some way to date the negatives. go through all the pictures and see if you can find any signs of the times. for example, a ‘new’ coke can, or an atari 2600, or anything else that was specifically popular during a certain time frame.

  2. Anon 1 – I wish there was a way to date the pictures – but the ones I have posted are the only ones that came out. Three strips of the negatives are blank. I keep thinking that some kind of accidental swap at the camera store is the most likely scenario. Or that someone in my family found the roll of film out in public somewhere, picked it up, stashed it in the house and forgot about it until my mom found it and developed it.

    Anon 2 – I don’t recognize the house either. You’re probably right about twins! I hadn’t thought about it. Someone mentioned that the “Welcome friends” sign could mean that they are Quakers….’

    Jen – they do look like mug shots!

  3. Hello Kitty didn’t arrive in the US until the mid 80s. I think it was created in the early 70s in Japan. You might be able to date that particular shirt. I’m sure there are Hello Kitty collectors out there.

  4. The answer is in the picture.

    Can’t you see it?

    Look in the top left corner in the ones with the older guy.

    It says Friends.

    That’s who they are.

  5. I’m just curious why a little boy would wear a Hello Kitty shirt. Boys don’t like those. What state do you live in that could help a few people pin point where they lived…I think that may help your search? You may have some lost relatives your family forgot to tell you. My grandmother had her
    1st marriage annuled and I never knew about it.

  6. There’s a new website
    that is dedicated to mystery pictures like yours. Perhaps if you post there too you’ll get some results. The website I’m referring to was created by Frank of Post Secret fame (). Post Secret gets thousands of visitors a week, so probably this new site will, too. Good luck! Love the comment that the folks in the pictures are friends – perfect! 🙂

  7. I was going to suggesting sending it to ifoundyourcamera.net as well, but it seems like someone already beat me to it!

    And i from an interview I read on the blog, it’s actually run by a college student up in Canada. Frank from Post Secret just helps support him… atleast that is what I think…

    Anyways, submit to him!

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