One of the photos that did survive is this:
So, who are the kids in the picture? How old might this photograph possibly be?
The answer is rather stunning, I think. These children are in fact my great-grandfather Inge Albert Winger Lister (1906-1974) and his siblings. From left to right: Inge A. W. Lister; Eva Maria Lister (1907-1970); Nils Frode Lister (1908-1951); Trygve Daniel Lister (1904-1988). The second-oldest sibling, Eva Gezina Lister (1905-1907), had already passed away.
Because of certain telling details, we known that the photo must have been taken between 1909 and 1911 (which fits with the apparent ages of the children), and the location seems to be the Lister family home at Vettakollen on the outskirts of Oslo's West End.
I haven't seen a lot of photos like this, not from around 1910. It is unique, at least in my family, and gives us an insight into daily life more than a hundred years ago. The photo transports us back in time, in medias res; with its slant and blurriness, it could easily have been taken with a disposable camera or even a mobile phone. You can smell the scent of the grass and the spruce trees and the wooden veranda floor; you can feel the rays of the sun on your neck. You can hear the voice of the little boy on his brother's lap.
This is what all our ancestors were once like: Kids playing on a veranda - or if not on a veranda, then in the grass outside their homestead, in paved streets between gritty tenement buildings, or in the snow outside the nomad tent.