Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Perhaps the Background Will Tell You

I’m a close-up – zoom-in-on-the-face type of gal.  But as I tackle my new project of cropping over 900 photos (It might be to a thousand) I have caught myself looking at things in the background.  Particularly in the old photographs.  Dads Bel Air Coupe, the yard we’re standing in, the couch before it was reupholstered, when there was a kitchen wall with window and no back room, etc.

Sometimes the background will offer a clue as to what year it was taken.  And if there is a Christmas tree, I would say it’s safe to guess the picture was taken in December.  And if I find a date or place on one photo and I see we are wearing the exact same things in another, I think it’s safe to assume the two may have been taken at the same time.

My paternal grandmother designed her house – created the way she wanted it to look.  And then one day she had to give it up and move into a condo that was closer to where I lived.  I could and did ride my bike to grandma’s condo on occasion.  I missed her house though.  I missed the space.  I missed the discoveries.

Grandma sold her house after my baby brother and cousin were born.  We have pictures of them both wearing yellow – babbling in turn as though they were having a conversation.  Although only one month apart, Edmund was twice as big as Corey.  Corey looked more like a doll next to Edmund.

I wish my younger cousins and siblings could have enjoyed grandma’s house and be able to share in the same memories as Patrick and I as well as two of our cousins.  When you’re little, you somehow believe things will last forever. Even when you’re not so little.  When you’ve had something as part of your life on a daily basis that you somehow take it for granted that it will always remain.

And now I face the same nostalgic challenge with my own mom’s house.  The house I grew up in.  The house that will belong to somebody else and become more of a distant memory for me and my sibs and our children.  Kayla’s two children won’t remember it at all.

We used to have a door with a window built into it.  I’d forgotten about that.  I was reminded when I looked at a photo with some ugly curtains hanging over where the window was.  I loved that window.  I was sad when we had to replace the door.  A peep hole isn’t near as exciting as an entire window.

Often it is the backgrounds that help me decide when the photo might have been taken.  I know approximately when we added the back room.  I don’t remember when we replaced the back door – or why.  

I had included this picture in an earlier post.

You know how sometimes you can get your picture taken at a certain attraction and you can obtain a copy of that photo on t-shirt, keychain, mug or what have you.  Back when this picture was taken, the draw was to have it made into a postcard.  It was through this photo that mom recognized the same background as the one in possession of my neighbors.  Turns out that his dad and my great uncle were pals.  Because of the background and putting the pieces of the puzzle together, we were able to identify who each person was.  Before the background discovery, our neighbor’s had never known who the little boy was on the grandfather’s lap.  Turned out to be my uncle Dick.  And this is of my great uncle and paternal grandmother.

I had also found a photo of Patrick in which he was sitting at a pavilion which to me looked like Hogel Zoo – but as there are several pavilions all throughout the world, I had no way of knowing for sure if it even was a zoo or a park or family vacation or a day trip or what.

As I continued through the photos, I found one of Patrick, Kayla and me in front of the seal display.  Patrick was wearing the same ugly shirt which he had been wearing in the pavilion.  So I think it is Hogel Zoo – and Kayla appears to be five or six and so that gives me an  year.

We may have felt stylish in the 70’s – but we weren’t.  It seems somewhat embarrassing to look at what we wore. ALL of us – even our conservative dad who kept his crew cut for many years and had not parted with his plaid sports coat until death.

I’m sure there’s more to come as I continue to crop and organize and rename and file.  Driving myself down memory lane.  Smiling occasionally with each memory while shedding tears with others realizing it will only be a memory now.  The house hasn’t been the same for the last year – especially for mom. It hasn’t been mine for over ten years now.  But now it’s more permanent.  It won’t belong to any of us.  It will become a thing of the past.

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