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Paper helps reunite family with photos

Posted: August 5, 2013 - 12:06am

SITKA — When Sonja Conner glanced at the photo of a smiling girl in July 26 Daily Sitka Sentinel, she thought the girl looked a lot like her mother.

But she didn’t read the caption saying the picture was one of three photos of the same girl that were found in a book Gale Kehres had bought at the White Elephant shop. Kehres wondered if somebody in town would recognize the pictures and want them back, and she asked the Sentinel to help her find out.

After Sonja Conner saw the picture in the Friday Sentinel she put the paper aside, folded with the picture of the girl on the outside. Something about it kept drawing her attention.

“I said, ‘Stop looking at me, little girl!’” she related.

When her husband Ron picked up the paper the picture drew his attention, too. “That’s your mom,” he said.

That’s when Sonja realized that it was indeed a picture of her mother, Elaine Nelson, who lives in Seminole, Okla.

Sonja came by the Sentinel Monday to retrieve the pictures, and to told the rest of the story. She said the first thing she did after recovering from the shock of discovery was to call her mother.

“I called Mom and told her she was in the paper,” Sonja said. “She wanted to know if it was the police blotter,” she joked.

“She laughed so hard,” Sonja said. And her mom also wondered how family photos had ended up in the thrift shop.

Sonja’s not sure, but she thinks the book, “Icebound,” in which the pictures were found had been donated by one of Sonja’s sons. The photos were among those that Sonja’s grandmother, June Thompson of Oklahoma City, had shared with family members over the years.

One of the three pictures found in the White Elephant book shows Elaine Nelson at about age 4 posing on the front bumper of a Buick. Another is a school-picture size photos taken when she was about 6. The original print of the photo printed in the Sentinel was marked with the date February 1957 on it. It was probably taken at Elaine’s 10th birthday party, Sonja said. The three were taken in Tulsa or Oklahoma City.

Sonja Conner, a nurse at SEARHC-Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital, has lived in Sitka for 12 years. She said she knows Gale Kehres and will call her to thank her for taking the effort to get the photos back to her.

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