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Not Just an Estate Sale

A few weeks back at an estate sale, I purchased an old Argus "Brick" camera and was overjoyed to find a couple of black and white pictures tucked in the same box. The two images were of the previous owner holding the camera I had just purchased. On the back of one picture was a handwritten note: "New Orleans, 1941." Nothing more, but just having pictures of the guy who owned this vintage camera was pretty great. At the same estate sale I also purchased an old Argus slide projector and a bunch of slides that came with it.

Last night, I decided to fire up the old projector and watch the slides I had purchased. They spanned about 30+ years from the first box all the way to the last box and as I watched, I realized these slides went with the black and white pictures and camera I had purchased. This was the same family, only years later.

Mildred and Sabin in Madison, Georgia (early 1960s). The same man in the first two black and white prints I had found, but now, 20 years older.

It seems a little strange....looking through the lives of someone you never met. But, as I watched each slide, I began to understand a little about the person taking the pictures and his family. "He" was named Sabin and his wife's name was Mildred. With a little digging, I found Mildred's obituary online and thus put the pieces together.

They met and were married in Madison in 1942, where it was written as being the "prettiest wedding" ever seen. Sabin was from New Orleans so they went there after the wedding, where he continued working as an attorney. When the war broke out he enlisted and Mildred worked at several supporting jobs within army camps, each doing their part in the war effort.

Madison family reunion (1960s)

1960s family reunion

They kept in touch with Mildred's family through the years. Returning to Madison for family reunions and to visit her parents.

Family reunion picture - 1960s

During the war they moved to San Antonio, TX, Hot Springs, AK, and finally Petersburg, VA where Sabin was stationed when the war ended. Sabin received his Doctor of Divinity and for the next 32 years he taught at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary during the week and on weekends preached in Kentucky or in neighboring states at churches that needed a temporary preacher. Mildred taught at Parkland Jr. High School in Louisville, Kentucky until she retired.

She was a member of Louisville’s Crescent Hill Woman’s Club, where she served as Co-Chairman of the Garden Department and on the Executive Board. She also served as President of the Rock Creek Garden Club and Vice President of the Council of Federated Garden Clubs for the Beautification League of Louisville.

After retirement in the 1970’s, the two returned to Madison to help care for Mildred’s aging parents. Her parents had been a huge part of Madison and after reading more, I found out her father had taught at the old Agricultural and Mechanical School. Today, those who remember are gone and there is no trace of the campus buildings except for some brick pillars at the Madison/Morgan County High School, but luckily, there are a few pictures online.

And every Christmas, Mildred's parents would decorate their beautiful old home. Every year there was a different wreath on the door...some more elaborate than others...many were homemade.

The home of Mildred's parents (Owen) in Madison, Georgia (spring 1972)

Mildred and Sabin traveled and took pictures of their adventures. Below are just a few of the images from a different time.

Gloucester, MA Fishermen 1961

Gloucester, MA Fishermen 1961

Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana 1961

Following Mildred’s father and mother passing in 1989 and 1990, respectively, they moved into the Owen family home on Academy Street and lived there until Sabin passed in 2011 and Mildred moved to assisted living. On September 27th, 2017, Mildred passed away, just shy of her 99th birthday.

As I and many others rummaged through the old Owen home last February, none of us knew anything about those who lived there. We were looking for sales. I found a camera and a big cardboard box full of old slides...little did I know how much more I found than just a sale.

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