A couple of weeks ago I wrote about why we should take photos. The problem with taking photos for some people is that everything we see around us today is so familiar that we hardly think that the things we see today are worth converting to photographs. Yet tomorrow, and still yet, decades later, the sights and people we see today are precisely what we will wish we had committed to photos. As we get older, we get more nostalgic, we think more about our past and the families and people and homes and streets and schools and towns where we lived. And we often fervently wish we had put forth the effort either to take pictures of these sights and people ourselves, or that we would have had someone else do it. With today's cheap and versatile digital technology, no reason exists why we should avoid recording our environments today for future perusal and to enhance our memories.
When I was very young, my mother had a Kodak camera which she had at college and for a short time after she was married. Then she lost the camera, or had it stolen at the Cody WY Stampede grounds. She had taken some photos with this camera of us kids when we were just a few years old, but then she could not afford to replace the camera. Imagine even being able to pay for the film and the developing of such photos when a quarter was a fortune. We did not have any other photos in our family until I bought a $1.98 Baby Brownie, and two or three years later a $3.98, or thereabouts, box Brownie when I was about 14. I took dozens of photos with these cameras of my siblings, parents, the farm and the place where we lived. But I made a big mistake in not having others take photos with me in them, and so I ended up with a scant half dozen or so photos of myself taken between the ages of about five and sixteen or seventeen.
Here is a list of some things I wish I had taken photos of in the years before I left home at age 17:
- The houses where we lived, especially the interior of the houses. Of course, flash was rare and flash was expensive, but even a few photos of the interiors of the homes would brighten our days today. We do not have a single photo of the home we lived in at Ralston WY during WW II for three years.
- The inside of the schools and classrooms where we went to school, with all the memories of those hallowed halls.
- My friends in school and at church.
- The interior of the shop where Dad made all of his inlaid veneer pictures.
- The high school trips we took for FFA, band, and other school activities.
- The homes and people in our neighborhood at Penrose and Ralston. These homes are all long gone.
- The interior of the old Penrose church before Dad tore it down.
- Our long and torturous school bus route 12 miles back and forth to school each day.
- The main streets and other scenes of the three towns familiar to us at the time: Cody, Powell, and Lovell, plus some photos of Cowley and Byron, two smaller communities important in our growing up.
- More photos of the farming work we did in raising sugar beets and alfalfa hay.
These examples are only a few of the images I would give anything to have now, to share with my family, my siblings, and others who are interested. People seem to have a general interest in old photos, no matter who or what is in them, as we transplant ourselves into their lives and locales in reconstructing our own. Of course, one of the problems was cost. I had very little money in high school, and the cost of film and developing, though miniscule by today's sstandards, was nonetheless a barrier. Plus some photos were not possible without more sophisticated equipment than my cheap drug-store cameras. But, in retrospect, if I had not bought so many bottles of grape Nehi, and PayDay and Baby Ruth candy bars while spending my noon hours shooting pool in that vile den of iniquity, Funk's Pool Hall, I could have had many of the photos I so ardently wish now that I could have. I'll write more later about people and places after I was married that I should have thought more about in terms of what I would want in the future and then taken many more photos of them.
The moral to the story is: Don't let the world pass you by with scenes and pictures that you think are so common place today that you don't want to bother with them. Today's humdrum scenes and places are tomorrows priceless artifacts and memories, so save them whether you want to or not. You and your families will be forever grateful.