Wartime wedding photo found in wallpaper sample book returned to Sudbury family

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Barrydowne Paint said they had the photo for years and were happy that it was reunited with family members, thanks to social media.

A WWII-era wedding photo found in a wallpaper sample book by a local company has been reunited with family members of those pictured through a social media post social.

On March 16, Barrydowne Paint posted the photo to its Facebook page, saying the company “hopes to harness the power of the internet to return a photo to his family.”

The company explained that years ago a customer borrowed a book of wallpapers from the store and returned it with the photo left inside.

“We rescued him in hopes of returning him to his rightful home,” Barrydowne Paint said in the post.

“We believe the gentleman’s uniform is a WW1 uniform. Please share this photo in hopes we can find someone who recognizes the people in the photo!

Just a day after the Facebook post was posted, Sudburian Sharon Smith commented on the photo, saying the image was of her late parents, Marie and George Wachnuk. His daughter, Melinda Bowes, recently retrieved the photo from the business on behalf of the family.

Trista Leclair, manager/team leader at Barrydowne Paint, said the photo was found by Laurel Scott, one of the company’s owners, more than a decade ago.

While the company was recently changing the carpets in its main office, Scott was sorting through her things and came across the book of wallpapers again, and that’s when she asked Leclair to post the photo on Facebook.

“We just released it by chance, just crossing our fingers, right?” said Leclair. “But never thinking it would come down to family. What he did was super, super nice for everyone. So awesome.”

Melinda Bowes said it was “the craziest thing in the world” to see the photo of her Baba and Didi (meaning grandmother and grandfather in Ukrainian) on Facebook.

“It’s such a random thing to scroll through Facebook and see these two people who were so amazing and have such a huge impact in our lives, but who, you know, in their lifetimes would never, ever have a clue. of what Facebook was, or even imagine that something like that would have been possible, right?” she says.

The family has other copies of the photo, so it wasn’t a long-lost image. It’s unclear who was responsible for the photo that ended up at Barrydowne Paint, as several family members have frequented the business over the years.

But Bowes said that given that both of her grandparents are of Ukrainian descent, it’s odd that the photo is on the internet now, of all time, as Ukraine is besieged by Russian forces.

“Ukrainian culture has been very, very closely tied to our lives,” she said.

The photo was not taken during the First World War, as Barrydowne Paint had guessed, but during the Second World War, on the occasion of the couple’s wedding in 1943.

George Wachnuk passed away in 2001 and Marie Wachnuk relatively recently, in 2019.

George had been a mechanic in the army during the war and remained a mechanic throughout his career. He retired as a service manager for a Chrysler Dodge dealership.

Marie has worked in men’s retail most of her life. His cooking was legendary, his family and friends loving his borscht and poppyseed cakes, among other treats.

“Baba was everyone’s Baba, you know,” Bowes said, recalling how her grandmother used to feed all her friends to the brim with her tasty food when she was a child.

She said she just wanted people to know what amazing people her grandparents were.

Bowes said she was grateful her own children, ages 14 and 19, got to know their great-grandmother before she passed away in 2019.

“Their loss is hugely felt,” she said.

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