Tag Archives: Old photographs

Mom’s Photo Albums

In addition to my dad’s sermons that I brought home from my sister’s house last year, another item was a box of my mom’s old photo albums. My first task was to organize all of my dad’s sermons and once I completed that, I began to go through the old albums with the intent of scanning them to create digital copies. There was a box of loose photos and five separate photo albums. The loose photos and albums scanned the period from the early 1960s to 1996, an almost 40 year period ending just three years before my mom died. It turned out to be a trip down memory lane going through them all with some wonderful discoveries along the way; images that I never knew had even been captured on film.

This is a school photo I found of myself from when I was in the 5th grade. I didn’t even recall seeing it before so it was a special find.

And here is one of our whole family taken at my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. It was amusing to see how young all of us looked in the early 1960s.

The album from 1970 was so old that I was afraid I would destroy the photos trying to get individual photos out to scan. So I just scanned the entire pages.

This first page captured a visit of my aunt, uncle, and cousin when they came to see us soon after we moved to Memphis. It was a bitter sweet memory when I viewed this page as almost as soon as they returned home after this trip, my cousin became gravely ill with hepatitis and spent many weeks in the hospital before thankfully making a full recovery but then almost within days of returning home, my aunt died of a brain hemorrhage. To further sadden this memory, my cousin, who was just a year younger than me died of a sudden heart attack before he even reached the age of 50.

The picture on the bottom right is actually the one happy memory as it is of me in my bedroom where I spent many an hour building car models just as I was captured doing in this photo. But certainly tempered by the sad events that unfolded soon after that visit.

Also included in that album was a photo of my uncle sitting on my motorcycle at his home in Texas. I sold it to my cousin after we moved to Memphis as I never licensed it in Tennessee because of concerns about me driving it in Memphis, a much busier traffic city than the one from which we had moved which had a population of less than 10,000.

This is the only other photo I thought existed of my old motorcycle.

This is an even older image…

…one of my brother and I when we bought a mini bike that preceded the motorcycle. With our paper route earnings, we together purchased it when we lived in that small town and would ride it up and down our semi-rural street.

Here is a photo of my brother and I with our dad when we were learning to play golf together. This was one of the “father-son” activities my dad suggested we take up once we had moved to the “big” city with public golf courses available. This was obviously taken after that first outing when we learned that each player was supposed to have his own bag and set of clubs (the first time we golfed, all three of us played out of the bag pictured next to my dad).

And this picture is special of my sister with her first car, significant probably much more to me than my sister as she let me learn how to drive a stick shift in her new car.

My dad was a huge fisherman probably going fishing almost every week of his adulthood. Here he is with the largest fish he ever caught, a dolphin landed on a deep-sea fishing excursion we took one summer on vacation in Destin, FL.

The next photo album jumped forward to 1980 the year my parents left Memphis and moved to a small community church in northwestern Louisiana.

We made many trips there prior to my dad retiring in 1989.

It was a relaxing, probably idyllic pre-retirement setting for my parents.

But when I opened the 1996 album and perused the photos, I was shocked at how much my mom had aged in the few short years since the end of the last album.

Some of the photos were even taken of her in the hospital as she had been in and out seeking treatment for numerous medical issues that arose as she neared the end of her life. Some of the photos brought tears to my eyes and I couldn’t bear to scan them, as I didn’t want to remember her that way.

As I closed the cover of that last album, tears running down my cheeks, I suddenly felt a tremendous sense of loss over my parents. On a daily basis, I probably don’t think about my parents what with me still working full time, having granddaddy duties, and maintaining a loving relationship with my wife of over 35 years. But it seemed that last album brought the death of my parents crashing down around me, a loss felt anew with fresh tears as I typed these words.

So I decided this was the memory I would try to etch in my mind of my parents, from December 1989, the year my dad retired and long before the medical conditions took their ravish toll on both my parents.

I miss you Mom and Dad. I love you and will always remember you dearly.

Kids Photos on My Office Desk

Some additional items that I will need to take home before I retire are the photos that have graced my office desk for all these years. I started working at this location over 30+ years ago, before my daughter and youngest son were even born and when our oldest son was just one year old. So you could say, my kids have literally grown up with me while I worked here.

The earliest photos I brought to display on my desk were the ones that were taken when they were in school (or pre-school), the ones taken by a professional photographer in September at the beginning of each academic year. Each fall, they would get a new picture made and I would bring them all to work to replace the previous year’s photo. I have used these same frames all that time so the frames themselves are almost as old as my kids.

During the year, it was a gradual growing up process that my wife and I witnessed. But when I replaced the photo from the year before with the newest one, there was typically a stark difference in their appearance. My daughter was actually born five days after I started working here so every year she celebrated her birthday; I too celebrated a work anniversary.

Each time I added a new photo, I put it in front of the previous photo so that the frames include all ten or so photos of each child. Their last photo was of a high school graduation, a college graduation, or a graduate school graduation photo (not necessarily a reflection of their highest achieved degree but rather just the last time the event was captured by a professional photographer).

I often thought these would make a nice collage, all 5 X7 prints in a single matted frame but since I have previously scanned all these photos, I could also make a digital collage.

It is bitter sweet to look back over the photos and see how each child has grown over the years.

Photos have always been some of my most prized possessions as they bridge us back to another time, a time we may not be able to recall so easily within our mind. But it is also with the knowledge that these photos provide only a visual image of each child at that stage of their life. To know their personality, to know the fine adult that they have grown into and to know the person whom they really are, you would have to have witnessed their growing up all these years.

Sadly working full time all those years, I missed a lot of this growing up and so these photos, no matter how precious they are cannot make up for that. But once I retire, I will be able to spend more time with each one of them, the families they have started (and the grandkids!), to reflect on the memories of them growing up, to get to know them more, and to share in the sheer joy of just being there with them.

Photos on My Office Wall

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Some of the items that I will need to take home when I retire are these 11 framed photos hanging on my office wall. I cannot even begin to fathom how long they have hung on my wall, but I know they have moved from one office to another each time my office changed. Considering that I have worked at the same site and in the same building for over 30 years, they are probably quite old.

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A close up inspection reveals that these are really cheap, 8” X 10” metal frames with a “faux-wood” finish.   I think I probably bought them at Target years ago. At least once when I moved into a larger office, which had a larger wall, I had to search for additional frames of the same design to expand my gallery.

Over the years, I would occasionally change out a photo for a newer one but with one exception, the photos were always either of my family (wife and kids), travel, or my cars. And the reason I know this is because each time I added a new photo, I simply put it on top of the photo previously displayed.

I recently took down each frame and took off the back just to see what treasures were hiding inside the frames.

In some, I found just a few photos but in others, the frame contained four or five photos. As I looked through the photos “archived” in each frame, I saw some of these images for the first time in many, many years.

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Harahan Bridge over Mississippi River

The earliest of these photos were black and whites. Prior to getting married, I had bought all the equipment necessary to develop and print my own black and white photos from black and white film. But some of the ones in the frames I realized I had printed from color 35 mm negatives as I recognized the image as a familiar color snapshot from my first year of marriage (back in my “artsy” pre-digital camera age when the only way I could make a black and white photo was to either print it this way or to use black and white film).

Based on finding just four black and white photos, my earliest wall gallery must have only included four frames.

Once I started traveling internationally, I began to add pictures from my travels, replacing all of my black and white photos with color photos.

Aquaduct of Caesarea (Israel)

Aquaduct of Caesarea (Israel)

And as my travels increased, I needed to add additional frames to accommodate photos from all my trips.

Lisbon Oceanarium (Aquarium, Lisbon, Portugal)

Lisbon Oceanarium (Aquarium, Lisbon, Portugal)

When family members traveled with me on these international trips, they appeared in my displayed photos as well.

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Sometime in the early 2000s, I began to display photos of my cars (at first two and then three cars in 2006) and then in 2011, I added photos from my two oldest children’s weddings.

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As my travels continued, I began to replace old travel photos with newer ones.

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In May of 2016 when I bought my latest car, I planned on replacing the picture of my Mini, which we no longer owned, with my new WRX.

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But then just days later, I got word that my work site was closing.

So rather than adding to my collection, I began to think about what I was going to do with my photo gallery when I left. Since the frames are so cheap, I wouldn’t want to display them inside our house unless I invested in much nicer frames.

And then I came upon the idea of hanging them all in our garage over my workbench. After all, once I retire, I will be spending a lot more time at my workbench doing one of the things I love doing, working with my hands.

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I’ve wanted to take down these shelves for quite some time since they just end up becoming a storage space for old paints and chemicals that are not even good anymore. Now I have a good reason to.

So rather than boxing up these old frames and sticking them in the attic or worse yet, throwing them away, they will simply relocate to one of my “new” office walls. Because after all, every time my office moved these gems moved with me. And so they will!

Lifetime of Photos

Beyond my wife, children, their spouses, grandchildren (and future grandchildren), and family, my greatest treasure is our lifetime of photos. Photos have always fascinated me and I have them around me everywhere. While I love photos of beautiful places and beautiful items, the photos that are most important to me are the photos of our lives, certainly those capturing special events but even those just showing our everyday lives. When I think about what a terrible tragedy it would be to lose our house in a fire, the items I think of first that I would want to save are the photos and photo albums.

I can’t recall the first camera I had or when I might have gotten it; it might have been when Polaroid came out with some of their inexpensive instant cameras or it might have been one of those small cartridge Kodak cameras. But I do know the first really nice camera I got was when I was in college and purchased a 35 mm camera—a Cannon FTB Single Lens Reflex (SLR)—for a photography class that I was taking. In this class, I learned a lot about taking photographs and even how to develop and print my own pictures. And so it was with this camera that my lifetime of taking photographs really began.

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My first photo album dates back to August 1977. I know this because being the organized and detailed person that I am, I put a sticker at the beginning of each album designating the month and year of the first photos in that album. These first images capture a summer vacation to my favorite spot, Montreat, NC and what has become one of my favorite shots of my Dad.

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This album also includes some trips I took in college with some of my fraternity brothers to Florida and the Smoky Mountains.

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Not long before I graduated from college, I met the woman who would become my wife and so my camera captured events leading up to our engagement…

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…our marriage…

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…and our first years of marriage.

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Not long after we started our family, I recognized that if I wanted to capture special moments or fleeting expressions of our children, I would need a camera that didn’t require manual adjustments of shutter speed, f-stop, and focus. While early “point and shoot” cameras sacrificed some in picture quality with their fixed focus lenses, their speed of use allowed me to capture some shots I would have missed if I were still relying on a manual camera.

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Starting with our first child in 1981, I diligently catalogued, in chronological order our photos into albums until about 1994.

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Then after our third child was about seven years old, I didn’t seem to have time to organize our photos into albums any longer. With three children and all their birthdays, vacations, and extracurricular activities, I was getting at least a roll of film developed every month and sometimes several rolls from a single event. The photos remained in their paper sleeves from the developer along with the developed negatives.

To keep the photos from getting lost until the day I had time to put them into albums, I began stuffing them into a shoebox. After a little over four years, I had accumulated two shoeboxes full of photos.

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In January 1998, I managed to find the time to get back to putting photos into an album. But rather than starting with the two boxes of loose photos, I simply began again with recent photos starting with a trip my wife and I took to Amsterdam for teaching my class.

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I diligently kept up this practice for the next five years although never having enough time to go back and pick up those loose photos.

Then in 2003, I bought my first digital camera, a small point and shoot. When I entered the digital world of photography, I still wanted to keep up my practice of putting photos into albums. I bought a printer and began to print my own photos to put into albums.

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But when I compared my printed photo to the image on my computer screen of the same photo, I was sorely disappointed. The photo seemed to possess such vibrant colors that were simply lost in the printed version.   I debated what to do for a while and eventually decided to give up the paper world and simply store my photos digitally. I even bought a projector to show off my photos in a truly large presentation format, much like people in earlier times displayed their vacation color slides.

At first, this was a hard choice since for my entire life, I was so used to having photo albums around to look through. But to ease the transition, I decided to keep up my chronological practice and so began to store my digital photos in folders by year and event. As I began to build an ever-increasing digital photo library, I became even more pleased with the results. In fact, I decided that I much preferred digital images to hardcopy, paper photos, something about the projected color image having superior quality to the reflected image.

With this digital preference in mind, I began to explore the possibility of scanning in all of our old photos. However, with over 25 years of photos amassed in 23 albums and two large shoeboxes, I quickly realized this would be a daunting undertaking. Then I came up with the idea of scanning in photos of just our kids over their entire lives. While this was still a significant number of photos, I decided to mainly focus on significant events, birthdays, first days of school, Christmas, and the like.

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One fall while watching college football, I scanned in over 800 photos of our children. For Christmas that year, I gave each of our kids CDs that contained almost 900 photos of the three of them, both individually as well as together. They loved them and in fact my daughter used some of them for a slide show at her wedding reception, one of the uses I had hoped they would realize one day as I laboriously scanned each one in.

These Christmas gifts were received so well that year, that for the next year, I decided to scan in pictures of my wife and I over our engaged and married life together. This too was an appreciated gift.

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Then along came those wonderful Apple products, iPhones, and iPads, and Mini-iPads. Suddenly with this technology, all of my digital photos were easily transportable to show off anywhere anytime.

Recently my sister took my parents old photo albums, inclusive of some photos dating back to the 1930s and scanned them in for my siblings and me. Now I had digital photos spanning over eight decades.

With the aid of an iPhone with larger capacity memory, I now have those eight decades of photos all on my phone—my parent’s photo albums and every digital photo I have ever taken or scanned in, up to and including the most recent ones of my grandson. Since I have this phone with me pretty much everywhere I go, I can at any time pull up any photo. And what of that potential fire loss I mentioned in the opening paragraph, well I now keep three separate digital backups, one of which is stored at an offsite location. Because when you are dealing with treasures accumulated over four generations, you can’t be too careful or too cautious.