atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#4101: Looking through the memories

Last night, instead of going on WoW, I dug out one of two big tubs of pictures from the linen closet and went through them. It took me two and a half hours.

For the most part these were pictures from the 1980s onward, but there were some 1970s and even some 1950s in there.

Included in the sub-box of 1950s pictures are a large stack of negatives, approximately 3x5", in envelopes that identify them as having been taken by my maternal grandfather. I didn't pull them out and look at them, though if I really want to I can; I expect that they're similar to the ones I found in the garage in 2008 and contain pictures from the 1920s. Most of the 1950s pictures are 3x3" format with scroll-cut edges (the way they used to do photographs). One picture had writing on the back which dated it to 1943.

There was a series of pictures taken from the upper floor of my paternal grandfather's house showing the church next door in various stages of construction. There has been very little change to that section of the road, except that the house is no longer there and the church is larger and the place across the street is gone.

I came across some pictures from 1988 showing a house from across the street, and it looked vaguely familiar but I couldn't place it...and then it clicked and I realized I was seeing my grandfather's house. That place was torn down shortly after my dad and his siblings sold the place to the church next door, which used the land to build a bigger building and put up a parking lot.

I found a picture of me on my first day of school in 1972.

...so then, when I was going through the box, I came across a bunch of 110 format negatives, and no pictures with them; I set them aside intending to scan them and see what I could come up with. I also put aside the little envelope of slides, wanting to scan them.

Well, my $40 scanner isn't so very good at scanning negatives or slides. I was able to see what's on most of the slides, but a few of them are too dark to scan well. One of these is a picture of me when I was one year old.

Why these are slides, I don't know. My parents never owned a slide projector. But Dad had this little Minolta camera, a Minolta 16 II, which used special film cartridges that had to mailed off for processing since neither Fotomat nor the drug store could handle them. It's possible that he might have accidentally bought slide film for the thing.

But in that box of pictures was a stack of extremely grainy black-and-white images, and those were pictures that had been taken by my Dad, using that camera, in 1975 on a family trip and not developed until after his death in 2007. So, that roll of special film sat in the top drawer of his dresser for 32 years--I'm amazed the lab was able to get anything out of that roll of film, to be honest, but it includes a picture of the Blue Bomb when it was brand-spanking-new and parked on a beach in Florida. (Daytona? I know it wasn't Saint Augustine, which was my parents' favorite vacation destination; you couldn't drive onto the beach there. We did go to Daytona once, if I am recalling correctly.)

I also found, in the slides, pictures of the powerboat Mom and Dad had in the early years of their marriage. It was an Owens outboard boat, twenty-something feet long, with a cuddy cabin, and Dad sold it when they moved to California in the late 1950s/early 1960s. (My brother was born in California. That explains everything. Fortunately they moved back to Illinois in time to have me, where the rest of their kids were born, so I don't have to share in his secret shame.) Shipping the thing was prohibitively expensive, and storage was too, so it got sold. Dad didn't have a boat again until twenty years later, in 1977, which is another story entirely.

I know of only one other color photograph of that boat, and it graced my Dad's dresser for forty years at least. I'm reasonably confident that the pictures accompanying this article are of the same model. (And yeah, no seats in the cockpit. You had to provide a deck chair or something to sit on while operating the thing. It went fast enough to water-ski behind--yeesh.)

Out of the entire tub I kept out a small handful of pictures:
* me on my first day of school
* Luna looking out the window at something, her tail so fat it was as big as she was
* my parents, aged 28
* Dad working on the boat, with the Chevrolet car he used to tow it nearby
* the patio of this house in 1965, with the family cat Gato
* an existing-light photo of the house decorated for the holidays, circa 1986
* the Tyco System 200 train set, cover off the box
* me with a cake that I'll have to explain further on
* me, my brother, and my oldest sister skating on the Chicago lakefront in 1985
* Mom's last cat and her litter of six kittens sleeping in the rocking chair
The cake was for a Cub Scout "father-son bake sale", only my Dad was far too busy so Mom did it. She took two store-bought pound cakes and carved one into a shark shape--and added a fin--then frosted the whole thing such that the bottom cake became sea and the shark shape became, obviously, a shark. From the shark's mouth protruded a Barbie leg and some red icing for blood, and the letters "JAWS" graced the front of this tableau. This cake won second place in the judging.

"Dad was too busy" was kind of a theme of my entire childhood. He was in his forties and was in serious contention for a vice presidency that he never quite managed to get, I think because he was just too damned good at his job--they couldn't afford to make him a vice president, not when Dad was one of the major reasons Montgomery Wards had industry-leading paint. But that was only obvious to everyone in hindsight; at the time Dad had to work very hard and everyone supported him in his efforts--Mom made sure of that--and so it never really bothered me that I didn't see a lot of him until later on. That's just how it was: Dad worked all day, came home and had dinner, then hit the hay about 8-ish or so, and was up at 5 or 6 to go to work. A lot of times he went to work on Saturday, too.

Well, there's a heck of a lot of other stuff I could talk about relating to all this, but I'm afraid of boring everyone to death.

TL;DR Ed went through a bunch of old pictures and was reminded of things from his family's past.
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