• Shae Bryant

True Stories in The Tin Photo


Many of the events in The Tin Photo are events that happened in my family history. The story of an immigrant, his wife, their son and a family secret is true. Of course, some of it was fictionalized to protect my own family, or for my own reasons. However, some of the smaller pieces of The Tin Photo are also true stories. They came from the memories of my Grandparents, Mother, Aunt and Great Aunts.


When young Samuel goes to take care of the cattle, he uses a cow pat as a way to warm his bare feet. This was a story my Grandfather told us over and over again. As young kids, we thought it was hilarious to think of our Grandfather stepping in a cow pat on purpose. As an adult, I look back on that and find it sad that they didn't have enough shoes and were forced to walk barefoot often. I will guarantee you that I never got a "walking to school barefoot, uphill, both ways" story. Though, he probably did go to school barefoot once in awhile.


The story of Helen's marriage to Matthew is another one that came from the mouths of family members. As crazy as that story seems, it is also one that actually happened. Towards the end of the book, Rachel speaks to her Great Aunt - Samuel's sister. That was based on a real conversation I had with my Great Aunt. She was the one who filled in many of the stories that I was piecing together. When she told the full story of my Great Grandmother's marriage, my jaw dropped. It was certainly a different time!


Felicia and Samuel's meeting is part of the storybook romance my Grandparents found in West Virginia. They did indeed meet in a skating rink, and my Grandmother told her Mother she saw the man she was going to marry. From that day on, they were inseparable. Even I remember the two of them always being together and always working together as a unit.


I have been asked if the story of the arson was true. Not only is that a true story, but I was witness to it. I was there when it happened and I remember the flames rising outside my bedroom window. The arson happened to my parents, my brother and me. My Grandparents were there and it did have a huge effect on my entire family. No, we don't know who did it. The entire story surrounding that arson is an insane story that has been pieced together over time. Maybe I'll write about it one day too!