Thursday, December 11, 2008

Black and White Memories

About 18 years ago I drove to Ft Leonard Wood, Missouri to pick up my son. He had spent the previous winter in two training sessions and was looking forward to 30 days at home before going to Korea for 13 months.

I had some time to wait while he finished a few items so I asked "Would you like pictures of anything? I'll take them for you while I wait." His response didn't surprise me "No. I just want out of this damned place!"

He had an attitude that I had experienced 20-some years earlier and understood well. While I waited I drove around and took photos of things that I knew he would remember with a different attitude in the future. A few years passed and it happened. I watched with pleasure as the flipped through the photos, smiled or laughed and began reminiscing about experiences and friends. Occasionally father does know best.

Recently I received a box of photos that my mother had collected over the years. As I looked at each photo I tried to recall names and guess at the date the photo was taken. I looked at one picture of coal miners knowing that an uncle was one of the young men. I can no longer identify him. My memories are fading.

My sisters asked my mother to identify the photos but her response was "After I'm gone no one will care." She was mistaken. One or both of my sisters attempted repeatedly to video tape her as she talked about her youth, her family and her memories of our father. For some reason she always found an excuse to object. I don't know of any videos or sound recordings.

Mother and Father.
My mother and father circa mid 1930's. This may be one of the earliest photos of them. (Larger version)

My father died in the spring. The following Christmas I brought my mother to my house and she spent a month with us. It was the best time I ever spent with her. She talked about things I had never heard -- like the story of how she hid her clothes before meeting my father for a secret marriage. I have only good memories of that visit. There should have been more but they never happened.

Anyway, for my children I hope to pass on a few photos and a few memories. More importantly, I hope to pass on some character, some values and some knowledge with the hope that they will pick through them cautiously and critically to find the good and reject the bad.

A note of serious caution. Don't trust my memories. Dates, names, places and details may be inaccurate. Best to check them for accuracy. Age is robbing me of too many good memories.

Funeral of an uncle.
Funeral of an uncle. My father is holding me on the back row, left side. This may be my earliest memory. I remember my father holding me as he stood in front of his brother's open casket. This memory was probably reinforced by the fact that we passed the family cemetery each time we visited my grandmother. About five years later around memorial day my grandmother asked an older cousin to clean a path to the grave. He didn't know which grave but I said, "I know. I'll show you." It was the second and last time I went to the grave. My grandmother is the woman sitting with her hand to her cheek. To her right is her father who lived to be 99. The photo was taken in front of a house my father built but never lived in. WWII ended those plans. (Larger version)

So, whether you want them or not, over the next few posts you will get photos and stories from the past.

Remember, occasionally father does know best. I trust this is one of those rare times.


Blogger Buffalo said...

I hate it that so many of my early memories have faded into nothingness. Kat tells me they are all in the archives, but damned if I know what names I attached to the files.

12/11/2008 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger nina at Nature Remains. said...

The stories that pass from the generations hold so much history that is otherwise lost--nice reminder to listen.

12/11/2008 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

This is one reason that I continue to bblog -- to pass along bits of pieces of who I am. I too heard a lot of stories from my mother but wish that tey were written down.

12/12/2008 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger graceonline said...

Thank you for including these images and reminiscences, Paul. I am touched by the expressions and body language of the individuals in the photos as much as by your wisdom.

12/16/2008 09:29:00 AM  

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