In all the pictures Oliver is grinning and Val looks elegant and pensive, as if she's seen the tiny snake of sickness in side Oliver and knows he won't live long. He was gone long before kindergarten so Sam never talks about any kind of dad, just Val elegant and on her own with all her art and her thoughts. That may not be the reason but it probably contributed to everyone's (Sam's included) idea of Sam: at the window in some kind of weirdo suit looking at the world out the end of a long paper roll.
And although Sam can't really remember Oliver directly he's heard Val tell a million stories about him, and pored over those pictures through many a rainy afternoon, so even now when he thinks "colonial" it's got nothing to do with shoebuckles and neoclassical architecture but Oliver's stories (God Save the Queen!) and those old pictures: weathered grey wood (you could almost smell the stew) and a pig, of all things. A pig at the door.
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