Sunday, January 27, 2008

Where The Heart Is

Recently, I wrote a bit about my experiences and discoveries while digitizing old family photos that were stored in shoeboxes, albums, and bags. In that, I also posted an image of the scanned floorplan that my grandfather used to build their family home. Last week, I went by the old place and brought a camera along. Oddly, some of the things I wanted to photograph just didn't look the way I wanted, and had remembered them. It was a cold, wet. very overcast day that landscape photographers would usually take a pass on. But I did manage to get a little of what I was after.

My mother and a younger sibling playing in the hose.

Helen, Ralph, and Jane

Charles Adcock tossing a ball with ?

Terry, Kim, and Mary Walters

The house last week from a similar angle.

I must say that the property has shrunk. It was a vast holding of land, a frontier of sorts in my childhood memories, but isn't so large that squinting is required to see all of the property boundries. The plum tree we ate from is long gone. The fig, and pear tree are looking rather haggard. In fact, I compared what I saw today to an old photo and the pear tree definately used to be much bigger. There also was a cedar tree that we used to climb in the front yard. It was cut years and years ago. The tree I actually wanted to photograph was the one that let me down the hardest. At the rear corner of the parcel there is a large, old tree where many of my mother's brothers would carve their names. I was saddened to see that all traces of this abuse have been swallowed whole by wood and time. The barbed wire fencing...and it's posts that my father and I labored on weekend after weekend have also fallen prey to the relentless ticking of the clock. To say that I was saddened by any of this is an extreme understatement. So much that I remembered just isn't the same. Time marches on.

The old fence.

You have to wonder where those memories of grandeur even came from. What exactly was it that drove me here with a camera to try and capture? What do I love about this place? I realized later what it was as I witnessed a glimpse of the love that has been shared here.

A straw dipped into a cup of water. A finger placed over it's end. A carefull and loving taste, drop by tiny drop as my uncle tenderly let them fall into my grandmother's waiting lips.

It's where the heart is.

My grandmother doing her ironing.


Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped away
into the next room.

I am I,
and you are you;
whatever we were to each other, that, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name,
speak to me in the easy way
which you always used,
put no difference in your tone,
wear no forced air
of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we shared together.
Let my name ever be
the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect, 
without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all
that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you,
for an interval, somewhere very near,
just around the corner.

All is well.

One brief moment and all will be as it was before,only better, infinitely happier,and forever we will be one together.

By Canon Henry Scott-Holland

Mary Louise Coates Walters
November 13, 1912 - January 27, 2008

Today the angel has flown

Ray's Oak tree last week

Lyn hunting Easter eggs near Ray's oak tree

L to R: Pear tree, Cedar tree, Norma, Jackie, and Karen

Same angle last week

Friday, January 18, 2008

Left Behind

This old car was pointed out to me over 20 years ago by a friend. It is located only a few miles from where I grew up and where I currently live. At one time, for a few years, I thought someone had moved the old car because it was no longer visible from the road. I remember as teenage boys we would talk about buying this old car and souping it up. We would turn it into a hotrod. Deuce coupes are every boys dream car!!!

Well today was the day I took a closer look. It is no deuce coupe, and I doubt it will ever again grace a highway with its presence. The car I dreamed of is long gone now and probably was beyond ressurection 20 years ago. It stands sentry over a small clearing of golden grass. About 100 yards away, a new subdivision is going up. The roads that wind through it are being blacktopped as I write this.

You have to wonder if sometime soon a teenage boy will spot the old car through the trees and dream of restoration. Visions flying through his head of a candy paint job and alloy wheels played to the soundtrack of a high lift camshaft and loud exhaust of a thundering Detroit powerplant. Boys will be boys I guess, and I think that this old car, while far from roadworthy, has yet to inspire its final dream.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

.......Back to the Shoebox

I was lucky to find this little gem as I digitized my family photos. It was carefully folded and tucked away among old photos, greeting cards, and report cards. It is pretty fragile, and is quite old. After studying it for about 30 seconds, I realized that it is a floorplan for my grandmother's house. I showed it to my mother, and also asked my grandmother about the constrution of the home.

The story goes that my grandfather built this house himself. It was built during WWII at a time when building materials were rationed. At that time period, they were only allowed to purchase around $300 in materials at a time. The photo here is the front of the paper. On the back were several sets of figures that all tallied up to around $300. My grandmother said that the neighbors pulled together, and some of them went to the lumber yard and purchased their $300 worth of lumber to allow them to gather enough materials to build the house in the required stages. She also mentioned borrowing money against an old chevy car they owned, and as soon as that loan was paid, they would again borrow against the chevy. The family moved into that home before it was completed. The exterior walls were wrapped in black felt or tar paper, and the interior walls ,while framed, were not covered. Sheets and linens were hung around the framing of the bathroom to give privacy to it's users.

My grandmother still lives in this home. I wondered for years why she is so stubborn as to stay there instead of moving in with one or other of her children. After hearing her story, about the struggle they went through to build the house I now uunderstand. The home represents a defining moment in her life at a defining moment in our nations history. It also is a big part of who my grandfather was, and what he was capable of achieving.

What's in your shoebox?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Digging Through A Shoebox

My mother has kept old photographs in boxes for years. As a child, I remember getting all wound up each time she would open one of the boxes and sort through each photo explaining who the faces belonged to. Not long ago, I went through those boxes, and bags, and albums trying to digitize as many of those old memories as I could. If you have never sat at a scanner for four hours at a time.....well that is another story. In any event, I was able to put together a pretty decent sized folder on my pc with all those old photos. Now and then I would come across one that I couldn't wait to email off to a sister, cousin, or uncle just to see what their reaction would be.

I know that the safest place to store photos in this day and age is to duplicate them and store the digital duplicates at two seperate locations. Second to that would be to have them printed on archival paper and store them in archival grade containers that are acid free and will not harm the photographs. Thats all fine and dandy, but I must say, there is something to be said for storing them in boxes. I am sure that most of those old pictures were bright and colorful the day they went into the boxes. When they came out it was a different story, as they have aged and have gained that beautiful faded-yellowed-patina that only old photos stored in boxes can get.

Oh and what about albums. Today we store in scrapbooks or printed press books that use all acid free archval quality STUFF. Back then the photos were carefully taped into the albums with clear(which was yellow back then) tape. There were also the little lick and stick corners that (on my good authority) do not stick for 40 years. I even scanned some photos in some of my grandfather's photo albums in which the photos had been carefully stapled into the book. That's what I like to see.....if your gonna do it right!!! Can you imaging, trying to be carefull with a 50 or 60 year old photo and a staple puller!! Then all the staple holes have to be fixed in photoshop, and finally the photo must be carefully stapled (not me! )back in it's place. On second thought I prefer the box method.

Today I found myself going through folders on my hard drive when I ran across the images in this post. They are candid shots of my daughter and a friend goofing around while I was trying to capture some senior photos for her friend. I had disregarded them at the time, but when I gave them a once over in photoshop, and tried to give them an aged look they really came to life. It isn't quite like finding a burnished treasure of a long gone era in a shoebox, but it was a great find and for today it will have to do.