Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Thing About Snaps

We're so accustomed to taking pictures of every part of our lives today that I think it's hard to appreciate how seldom that occurred in decades gone by, especially for those of us born after say, 1980. Today you take a picture (or many) and post them on Facebook and who knows what people do with the original, save it to the hard drive and back it up or simply delete it when the memory card gets too full? During most of the past century, you took a picture and didn't see the results for days or maybe weeks. And if it wasn't a good shot . . . oh well. Even if it was a good shot, if you lost or damaged the print and you couldn't locate the negative, you simply had your memory of the picture.

Grandma Josie and Danny
I recently located about a dozen black-and-white photos of me that my mother saved and it made me wonder, were there others and if so, where did they go? Maybe she split up what she had in three equal parts (with my two sisters). Or maybe there just weren't any more. I have a lot of Kodachrome slides (my Dad and his Dad's favorite format) so I'm not lacking in family memories, but I'm enjoying these little b&w jobs, probably from a Brownie camera.

For example, here's one with me and my maternal Grandmother in North Dakota where I lived from age 2-4. She died when I was 4 so this is one of only a couple of pictures I've ever seen of her taken while I was alive.

Beth and Danny
The next one memorializes possibly the first inflatable pool that the family owned. My sister and I were fanatical swimmers as kids (our mother was not), but this predates swimming lessons and lifesaving. I think it's just a testimony to HOT midwestern summers. It seems a little too small for even two children, but we seemed to be enjoying the wet anyhow.

Sir Danny
I think it's strange that my high school mascot was a Knight and the mascot of the institution where I work is also a Knight. I've been connected with symbolic Knights for more than 25 years. I didn't remember until I found these photographs that there was an antecedent for this relationship. When I was a Cub Scout, I did a project for an achievement that cast me as guess what . . . a Knight. Here I am in my young glory, all of the equipment handcrafted by moi.

Danny at attention
This next one is just a tad bizarre. I've taken pictures of my kids to highlight some quirky behavior or unique moment in their lives. But I don't believe I ever posed them quite like this. I don't know if Mom was trying to show my height or she liked the clothes I was wearing or she thought she was the next Walker Evans. Maybe she was training for some forensic job, cuz it sure looks like a lineup. The motivation escapes me, but here is the result, whatever the impetus. Yep, it's me alright, with the living room drapes as a backdrop. Weird.

The last one I'll bore you with is really a work of art. Not because of the quality of the picture, but because of what it took to produce such an assemblage. My fondest memories of childhood are the kids in the neighborhood and the adventures that we had. We lived on the eastern boundary of town and 90% of the houses had families of 2-4 kids and in some cases more. We spent every waking moment in roving packs that glided from yard to yard with astonishing speed, from early morning until well after dark. It was magical.

The Fareway and Park Drive Gang
The crowning achievement of this time was the clubhouse (known as "The Fort") that we built in our back yard one summer. There were houses going up all around us and someone had the ingenious idea to "borrow" some wood from one of them after the men had gone home for the day. We managed to scrape together enough plywood and pine planking to construct a one-room shack on our tetherball court and paint it. It wasn't until we started to add a second story that not only our parents began to ask questions, but so did the foreman of the worksite. Oops. However, before that happened, we were fortunate that our Mom froze the moment for us with this picture. I can still ID everyone in the frame.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Dan. In some ways, it seems like having fewer photos makes them more special.

    Photos are such a great trigger for memories. Smells are too, but it's more difficult to keep them in a box or post them on Facebook.

    I wonder what my kids will do with all the photos we have of them, and what memories they will carry into adulthood.