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Old photos found along the Bear Creek Greenway in February, hand-delivered to Texas descendants

Belinda Glenn found a collection of old photos while jogging along the Bear Creek Greenway in February. After months of digging, he found relatives in Texas of the people in the photo. [courtesy photo]

Belinda Glenn [courtesy photo]

An old photo album found along the Bear Creek Greenway earlier this year. [courtesy photo]

One of the old photos found along the Bear Creek Greenway that has been given to family members in Texas. [courtesy photo]

Belinda Glenn found a collection of old photos while jogging along the Bear Creek Greenway. After months of digging, he found relatives in Texas of the people in the photo. [courtesy photo]

The man in this photo turned out to be Cathy Spangler’s Uncle Harry. [courtesy photo]

A woman who found a treasure trove of old family photos in February along the Bear Creek Greenway was able to deliver them to family descendants in Texas last week.

Belinda Glenn flew to San Antonio Wednesday to hand-deliver the small stack of albums and a bag of loose photos to Cathy Spangler, a former Medford resident.

Holding on to the photos for more than six months, Glenn said, made her “even more adamant” that she get them into the right hands.

Glenn, a SkyWest flight attendant, went for a run on the Greenway during a layover in Medford in early February. Near Harry & David Field, he found a pile of old discarded photos in a wooded area littered with campsites and trash.

Glenn was a former employee, and the wet, faded photos tugged at her heartstrings. Mainly from the 1930s and 1940s, the images seemed to document the life of a family. A chubby-cheeked boy sitting on a stool in a fancy dress. The young people posed with a new car. An old gentleman smiled from a lake with a cigarette in his hand.

Glenn said a lot of false leads, but also some help from amateur and professional history researchers, led to Wednesday’s happy ending.

“I had contacted what I thought was a good lead, and he had mentioned that Dolores, who was the baby in the photos, was in the hospital. This clue didn’t work in terms of getting the photos back, but I had this feeling. I wondered if Dolores was going to die soon,” Glenn said.

San Antonio resident Cathy Spangler was raised by two of the adults in the photo: her aunt and uncle, Helen and Harry Frye. For her part, Spangler had been waiting for updates on her cousin, Dolores, depicted in many of the images as a baby.

When Spangler learned that Dolores had died, he was trying to find information about a memorial service. Instead, he found the February Mail Tribune story about the missing photos.

“One of my cousins ​​in Sacramento told me that Dolores had died. I’m in Texas and I couldn’t get a last minute ticket out. I have a brother in Salem and I was trying to find out details so he could represent our branch of the family,” Spangler said Wednesday.

“When I looked up his name, all of a sudden these family photos of mine jumped out at me and I was shocked. I couldn’t figure out what these family photos even looked like on the screen.”

After hearing about Spangler, Glenn said he immediately knew he was the perfect connection for the photos.

“I sent her some of the photos I had and she sent some of hers. You could tell they were identical or from the same roll, taken just moments apart,” Glenn said.

“I knew I had to visit her.”

Spangler, who lived with the Fryes as a child and later spent summer vacations with them, said the images brought back precious childhood memories.

“I had never seen so many of these photos. I had no idea that my Aunt Helen, who I lived with for several years, had traveled with her and my uncle. My mother and father divorced when I was little, and my aunt and uncle wanted to adopt me, so I went to live with them before my grandmother stepped in,” Spangler said.

Spangler’s Uncle Harry appears in one of the old pictures: at the lake with the cigarette. Spangler said her aunt Helen worked for Providence Hospital for many years and was the photographer of most of the images found along the Greenway.

“Some of my fondest memories were listening to the radio in the 1940s with Uncle Harry. He was very dear to me. He showed me more love than anyone in my family.”

Spangler recalled the Frye home on Saling Avenue and being friends with the daughter of the late Rep. Robert Duncan, who lived in Medford.

“Once, I had my friend, Nancy Duncan, come over for lunch. Her father was very important, and my Aunt Helen was a professional baker, cook and hostess. She made everything and had little sandwiches cut into triangles, white cupcakes with pink frosting,” Spangler said.

“A week later, it was my turn to have lunch at Nancy’s house, and she took out just one tuna sandwich and tossed it on the redwood picnic table. I remember we laughed a lot about that.”

Spangler said her aunt and uncle adopted a daughter in later years, and it was likely that child’s daughter may have lost the pictures while cleaning out the items after Helen’s death. However, she is excited to share them with extended family and is touched by the kindness of a stranger.

“It’s really phenomenal because, in this day and age, people seem much less likely to get involved in anything that involves any effort or investment of their precious time,” he said.

“When I first contacted Belinda, I didn’t expect there to be so many. It’s a huge bag of loose photos, real classics. Many of them I’d never seen before because they were taken before born or when my mother no longer lived there. … I am very grateful to have them all.”

Glenn said she felt protective of the photos and almost like they had become “extended family” given the amount of time she had been poring over the faces of Spangler’s family.

“I’m so grateful I was able to help. Maybe not everyone is interested in old family photos, but every family has one or two people who get excited about old photos and genealogy,” Glenn said.

“They’ve just been sitting in my room so I have to admit it was a bit sad to see them go. It felt a bit like I was giving away part of my own family – I would have become so clothes”.

Spangler said meeting Glenn and receiving memories of his past had given him hope for humanity.

“This whole experience has been incredible. It has allowed me to have the opportunity to relive the happiest parts of my childhood.”

Contact Mail Tribune reporter Buffy Pollock at 541-776-8784 or Follow her on Twitter @orwritergal


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