Tag Archive | going back in time

Photos and the Lost Past

clutterThe weather has once again marooned Ken and I in the house. During the last 12 hours, we’ve had about three inches of rain. South of here in Chicago, they’ve had closer to five inches. We’ve even had rumbles of thunder and a few lightning flashes. Where monsoons are prevalent, people would wonder why I’m even mentioning this fact. But here, where I live, it is more likely to have a foot of snow than two inches of rain. But this post is not about the weather, really. I just had to whine a little about getting cheated out of Spring this year.

Being stuck in the house so often by the curse of weather, I’ve developed strategies to help the time pass. Like cleaning. Every once in awhile, I get the itch to pick up clutter. I hate to do hardcore cleaning, but clutter drives me nuts. With that said, I decided a rainy day was a good time to pick up a pile of stuff that had been sitting on the floor of the spare bedroom for months. And guess what I found? I came across a whole pile of amazing old photographs.

I don’t know why these photos were in boxes and envelopes instead of albums, but there they were. Perhaps they were the outtakes–you know, they weren’t deemed good enough to make an album. Or perhaps they were doubles of photos that did get into albums.  Or maybe when I got them, I never had the time to put them into an album. But no matter, there they were, and it was time to do something with them. The first step was to look at them. Amazingly, I remembered the exact moment when the photo was taken. I could tell you the event and the approximate time they had been snapped, and some of these pictures date back to when I was 11 years old! I don’t have to tell you, that was a LONG  TIME AGO!

One by one, the photos showed me how rich my life has been. I saw my Girl Scout leaders and girl pals. I witnessed the 10th anniversary of my 8th grade graduation picnic. Then there were the rare photos of my Dad and ALL of his eight siblings at a family picnic. I think it’s the only picture that exists where all eight of them are together. Then there were pictures of my little girls playing in the bathtub with their boats and other toys. There were lots of photos of the first days of school taken by the same tree. Then there were pictures of family Christmases at different locations for both Ken’s family and mine, too. There was a picture of the night when Ken and I met for the first time.

As you might imagine, it was a lovely journey. But instead of cleaning out clutter, I spent much of the day going down memory lane. The question is now what do I do with them? That’s probably why this pile of photos was staged for a decision in the first place. I just CAN’T throw them out.

Digital photography is great in many ways–especially when it involves tangible clutter. But viewing digital pictures is an entirely different experience.  Finding a file of digital picture is not as emotional as unearthing a box of old photos. There’s something about touching them and remembering why and when the photos were taken. I think as a person gets older, it’s fun to see you were young and carefree as a child, teenager, young adult and then as a young parent. Most photographs capture the happy times. At least I NEVER take photos of the hard times or the sad times or the painful times. My photos show a joyful journey and a personal history.

So, the next time you are cleaning out your clutter, beware of those unexpected elements that can derail you from our original intent. And if you’re  as lucky as I was yesterday to find lost memories, enjoy!


A REAL Thing

girls and cokeI usually don’t pay attention to television commercials. In my mind, they are just a necessary evil so folks can watch free TV. To fight back, I have my computer resting on my lap, while the unending 30-second sales pitches past before my eyes. But this morning it was different.

A Coke commercial came on, and it immediately took me back to my teen years. I don’t know why I paid attention to this one; I’ve seen hundreds of Coke commercials, but this one featured a GLASS BOTTLE of Coke. The sixteen ounce variety. The kind I drank down at Debbie’s house from the time I was thirteen.

It was a time in my life when my father had fallen into illness, and my mother did her best to keep things quiet for him. The mantra at our house was, “SHHHHH, get out of here. Your father doesn’t feel good.” So, off to Debbie’s I would go, by foot or by Schwinn.

Debbie’s Mom always bought Coke because Debbie’s Dad drank nothing else. At the time, the beverage only came in 16 oz. glass, refundable bottles. The carton of eight bottles weighed about 50 pounds, I swear. But Debbie and I never minded lugging the sweet beverage into the house on grocery day because we knew afterward we would be treated for our assistance. The Coke carton sat in the back hall; it never made it to the refrigerator because the clunky bottles took so much space. So, every time I would visit the Johnson’s, I’d have to walk past the carton that always made my mouth water. You see, my mother never bought Coke. I think she thought it was an evil concoction. She said they cleaned car carburetors with the stuff.

I remember sitting in Debbie’s bed, legs crossed with a tall Tupperware tumbler filled to the brim with ice cubes, opening the tall bottle with a “church key” (that’s a bottle opener for you youngsters), and then pouring the dark, sweet, soda of the gods over the  ice. We’d sit silently while the Coke spilled over the ice, producing a crackling and a fizzing sound that we listened to like a sermon on Sunday. Then came the first sip, when we’d put our lips to the plastic glass and savor the cold sweetness of the special summer soda. In the privacy of her bedroom, Debbie and I would sit for hours, talking about girl stuff while we tried to make our sixteen ounces of Coke last as long as it could.

The biggest change since then–besides growing older–(Did I tell you Debbie’s a grandma?) has been the glass bottles have been replaced by cans and plastic containers. The Coca Cola Company has also developed different varieties to appease the dieters and thrill seekers (Lime Coke, come on!). But the REAL THING is still the the only soda on the planet as far as I’m concerned. I’m just glad we don’t have to carry those heavy glass bottles any more.