A love story told in a black and white photo

Abraham Villarreal
3 min readOct 10, 2020
Abram and Rafaela Villarreal, 1946

There is something that attracts us to our connections to the past. Black and white pictures of grandparents, or funky old items that are mirrors to the lives of previous generations. We come across them during visits to family and sometimes in sad moments as we commemorate a loved one’s passing.

It was only a few days ago that I found a negative photo of my grandparents. I held it up to the light, trying to make out there faces. Taken in 1946, the wedding day image of a happy bride and groom was a milestone moment in the history of my family tree.

Only a year before that, my grandfather Abram was a Seabee in the Navy, deployed overseas. He was just one of 16 million Americans serving their country trying to defeat a faraway enemy that threatened the globe. The future bride’s name was Rafaela. She was back home in a border town, living the quiet life of a Mexican-American, hoping to one day meet her life partner.

At least that’s the way the story unfolds in my mind as I look at the photo. There’s a lot you can take away from a black and white photo. Without the colors, your imagination comes to life. You picture the colorful adventure stories of a young soldier, and the quiet moments of hoping and wishing of a young lady in waiting.

The wedding day couple poses in front of a backdrop. It looks nice but not nice enough to know that it’s still a picture on a curtain. There are columns on each side. The background imagery isn’t what you would consider inspiring but that’s O.K. In this photo, it’s your grandfather and grandmother that are the center of attention.

He stands at attention. She smiles behind a veil and a large bouquet of flowers. They both look straight on and into the future, only imagining what life would bring to newlyweds, a son and daughter of immigrants in post-war America.

In 1946, the United States was being reborn into a new society filled with young G.I.s who were returning home to find themselves again. They had survived the unimaginable and the young ladies of the world were ready to welcome them into the new ordinary of an American life they fought…

Abraham Villarreal

People are interesting. I write about them and what makes them interesting.