While passing through our utility room on my way to the garage the other day, my attention was attracted to (or perhaps distracted by would be more precise) a shoe box on a shelf above the dryer.
Now what could that be? I wondered. Although I’d passed through the room many times a day, day after day, I couldn’t recall seeing the box there. I forgot why I was going to the garage and stopped to take down the box and examine its contents. What I discovered inside held my attention for the next hour or so. (I don’t think I ever made it to the garage for whatever it was I was seeking.)
Inside that box were old family photos from when our four daughters were infants and toddlers, when we lived in Pennsylvania and Tennessee and the kids were growing up–and when my wife and I were much younger.
Going through old family photos can take up a lot of time, but it sure can bring back a lot of memories! And it can make you think. As I perused those old photos, I was struck by several thoughts.
- How much fun we had “back then.” We didn’t have much money, but we did enjoy the time with the children–and the photos show that they, too, were having fun.
- How innocent and carefree life was for the kids. The problems of life–work, money, taxes, government intrusions into private life, etc.–none of that fazed them.
- How much our grandchildren resemble our own children when they were young. (I can also see now how much like my grandfather my dad looked when he was a kid. And people tell me that I look like him.)
- How much younger–and lighter–I was back then. The cares of this life, the ravages of time, and overindulgence at the table can sure change a guy’s appearance!
- How fun-loving my own parents were, such as the Christmas when Daddy got all of us men–my brother-in-law, my brother, and me–overalls and bandanas. We never understood why.
- How organized I kept the old photos–in contrast to the jumble of files and flash drives I must study to find the image I’m seeking today. I once was super-organized, so much so that I could feel my way through the closet and find just the shirt I was looking for–in the dark. But ever since we moved from Tennessee to South Carolina thirteen years ago, organization seems to have vanished from my list of skills.
- How glad I am that I can revisit those times with a hard copy of the memory and not have to rely on an electronic gadget–and risk losing the images to a crashed hard drive, an accidentally deleted file, or a lost flash drive.
Technological advancements surely have made it easier for us to capture memories as images. The passage from 35 mm film and flashbulbs to Polaroids to Instamatics and from slides and prints to digital images has been wonderful for picture taking. The quality of photography possible today is phenomenal. And you don’t really have to have an expensive digital camera with all the bells and whistles to get good photos. Sometimes photos taken with a cheap cell phone today rival anything the professional photographers could produce “back then.” (Well, my wife still cuts off people’s heads, and her shaky hand produces some blurry images, but that’s not the fault of the technology.)
It certainly is less expensive to take pictures today. In the “good ol’ days,” I had to send my exposed rolls of 35 mm film out to be developed, and even the cost of sending it to “economy” companies like Clark and York got pricey after a while, especially if you, as I did, ordered double prints of everything. But now I’m glad that I ordered those double prints. As the kids married and moved away, I noticed that our photo albums’ contents seemed to dwindle as the kids expropriated their favorite pics for their own albums.
But even that purloining is good because it shows that they, too, have valued the times and memories of their past. Those old photos ensure that the memories will live on and the girls will tell their children stories of what life was like when they were little. Their heritage will continue to future generations.
Now, if I could only recall what I wanted in the garage before that box of old photos distracted me!