Century-Old Photos Find Rightful Owner

This 1920 wedding photo was one of many Gailen Runge discovered in her home. i i

Gailen Runge discovered many photos hidden away in the Oakland, Calif., home she purchased in 1993. The rightful owner of the photos, Robert Martin, says this picture shows his parents (on the left) on their wedding day in 1920. hide caption

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This 1920 wedding photo was one of many Gailen Runge discovered in her home.

Gailen Runge discovered many photos hidden away in the Oakland, Calif., home she purchased in 1993. The rightful owner of the photos, Robert Martin, says this picture shows his parents (on the left) on their wedding day in 1920.

For 14 years, Gailen Runge had been haunted by a huge cache of photos she found in the house she bought in Oakland, Calif., in 1994.

When she tore down walls for renovation, Runge found secret compartments filled with the previous owner's treasures. The most significant find was 68 old, family photos showing moments from one of Oakland's pioneer Portuguese families.

The pictures showed women decked out in Victorian garb, complete with lace-up boots and flowery hats. Men had slicked-back hair and bowler hats.

Despite Runge's best efforts to find the rightful owner — the home's previous owner had since died — Runge came up empty-handed. Eventually she contacted the San Francisco Chronicle for help.

This month, the photos finally found a home. Alameda resident Robert Martin, 74, says he was reading the Chronicle when he suddenly recognized photos of his family on page one. Martin, who is the nephew of a former owner of the home, says he had seen many of the photos when he was young, but he lost track of them years ago.

This week, Runge and Martin sat down to go over the history of each photo, and Runge finally learned the secrets to the cache she had held so long. They spoke with Noah Adams about the photos.

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