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  • Writer's pictureKristin Wenger

Grandpa's Pictures (#52Ancestors week 24: Father's Day)

Updated: Jul 30, 2018

We've all heard the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words." I am blessed to have many childhood photos of my maternal grandpa, thanks to his father's interest in photography. My mom and uncle have shared digital copies of these images with me. My uncle Denson has my great-grandfather's Brownie camera used to capture these moments in time, which are now priceless treasures.

There is a significant story behind this photograph. The video below explains more...

The Kodak "Brownie" camera made its debut at the turn of the twentieth century and sold for one dollar. One hundred thousand of them were purchased during the first year alone. The Brownie helped to put photography into the hands of amateurs and allowed the middle class to take their own "snapshots" as well. [i]

I’ve been wanting to try out Animoto for some time, and this week seemed the perfect opportunity to create a video to share family history in a viewer-friendly way.

Of course, there are many details the pictures don’t tell. Much of my grandpa’s story has already been shared through the lens of his father and sister.

A few additional tidbits about his adult life:

  • He was an industrial products salesman for the Best Foods division of Corn Products International for 40 years, retiring in 1976.

  • He was a member and elder of Church of the Apostles United Church of Christ in Lancaster.

  • He was a member and former president of the American Business Club. [ii] (I recall going to the AMBUCS auction at the Farm & Home Center every year as a child).

  • After playing football in high school, he became an avid sports fan. In his final years when he lived at the Mennonite Home on Harrisburg Pike in Lancaster, I remember always trying to get him set up with a baseball game to watch on TV when I left.

  • He had a great smile and laugh and was always gentle and kind to me. I remember him teaching me how to bounce a ball out on my driveway when I was three or four years old. I remember sitting beside him and holding his hand at his mother’s funeral when I was six. I remember many birthday parties and Christmas Eves with him. I remember the May after my freshman year of college when I rode my bike to his house every morning. My regular summer job as a day camp counselor didn't start until June, so I used that month to help him and my grandma pack to move to a retirement community. How thankful I am to have had that time with him…and how I wish now that I would have asked more questions about his fascinating early life.

I'm thankful to be able to preserve my grandpa's photos in an easily accessible format for his great-grandchildren and beyond.

Happy Father's Day!


All photos in video provided by children of John C. Groenendaal except yearbook page from “U.S. School Yearbooks, 1900-1990,” database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed 11 June 2018), path: Pennsylvania > Havertown > Haverford Township High School > 1932 > image 27 of 104.

[i]“Kodak Brownie Camera,” Franklin Institute ( : accessed 12 June 2018).

[ii] “John C. Groenendaal,” The Intelligencer Journal (Lancaster, Pennsylvania), 22 August 2000, page B-3.


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