thumbnails and .htaccess

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I have thumbnails in a subdirectory of the parent directory where the
hi-res images exist.
I also have these same thumbnails referred to by the site index.
Further, I have some of these subdirectories protected by .htaccess.

The .htaccess causes the thumbnails to not be retrieved to display in
the site index
which makes the site index look poorly designed.

Is there anyway that I can alter this so that the <img src=...> uses
an alternate image
if the first image is not found?  Thanks.

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