The mystery family depicted in old photographs purchased at a New Jersey auction house has been identified.
Dr. Geralyn M. Ponzio-Replogle, who works in Hospice and Palliative Medicine at Newton Medical Center in Newton, N.J., says the pictures are of her family. This discovery was a welcome surprise for Ponzio-Replogle, because most of her family’s old photographs were destroyed when her parents' house burned down in 1990.
"My mother was very fond of pictures, she had hundreds of boxes of them," Ponzio-Replogle says. "Nothing was saved in the fire."
Ponzio-Replogle was mentioned and depicted in a birth announcement included with the shoebox purchased at the auction house. Matt and Geri, also mentioned in the announcement, are her parents. Matt is a retired physician, while Geri is a former nurse and bakery owner.
Many of the photographs, birth announcements, newspaper clippings, and other items were addressed to her grandparents Carl and Mildred Ponzio of Nenshanic, N.J. Her grandfather was an autobody mechanic who passed away in 1979. Her grandmother is still alive today.
Linda Rose Ponzio, a member of Mercer County Community College of Trenton’s first graduating class according to one of the newspaper clippings, was Ponzio-Replogle’s aunt. She was later known as Linda Hazzard and died due to damage to her heart from an infection as a child.
Many of the photos depict Ponzio-Replogle's cousin, Kya Hazzard, who for a time tamed lions in Nevada for the indoor circuses and shows, including the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino.
Ponzio-Replogle is uncertain how the shoebox made its way to the auction house. She guesses that the collection was in a piece of furniture of her grandmother's that was sold when Mildred moved to Whiting, New Jersey. If not, Ponzio-Replogle says the photos could have been a part of the estates of “Aunt Linda” or her “Uncle Carl Jr.”, who died from heart problems that began during the Vietnam War.
"This is a little bit of our history," Ponzio-Replogle says. "The photos of our lives that were lost in that fire are slowly coming back to us. The universe has brought pieces of our past to us in strange ways."
The woman who purchased the shoebox, Amanda Corigliano, is happy that she could reunite the photographs with their family.
“I’m really happy that she [Ponzio-Replogle] was found,” Corigliano says. “If it had happened to me, if the photos had been of my family, I’d have wanted them back.”
Ponzio-Replogle thanked Corigliano for making such a big difference for the Ponzio family.
"We're all more connected than we think," Ponzio-Replogle says. "By paying those $2, you put these photos back together with their family."