Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Last night we celebrated my granddaughter's eighth birthday. The family sat around the table eating pasta and ice cream. Gabby opened her presents An evening of celebration. A celebration all captured on camera. Recording our family history.

We have pictures of my grandparents with their families and the same for our great grandparents. Tin types, pictures glued to cardboard. Some pictures are in folders while others are on post cards.

Smile. The professional photographer aimed the camera and captured our family, me standing between my two seated sisters. Mom and Dad smiling stood behind us. We didn't realize how precious this picture would be to us some day. The photo portrait captured me with long curls made when Mother wrapped my hair around a fat pencil. My sisters were teenagers so young and lovely. Mom and Dad were captured at an age that I would not remember.

We stood in front of the sign: Virginia. Later: New York. Mom or Dad held the box camera while their daughters, and their youngest with her favorite doll Amosandra, stood in front of each sign at each state lines. I don't remember much of the trips, but I do remember standing in the ditches in front of the signs.

My sister got a Brownie camera. It was compact with a long cord so she could hang it around her neck. The box camera gave way to the sweet, little Brownie.

Film was developed at the pharmacy. We waited and waited. When I was in high school, the waiting became obsolete when with the Polaroid. Black and white was replaced with color. A whole new world of photography.

Now I pull my little Canon from my purse. Aim. Shoot. In seconds I can see the picture I've just taken. When I go home, I send it off to the family, so they can see Gabby one year older.

I miss the black and white pictures. The intensity of the faces perhaps starker seemed much more real. Pictures were taken by a photographer with a huge camera and a powder flash. Now instead of waiting to see my pictures they reside in my computer never quite making it into paper form.

The camera: a recorder of history, the keeper of memories, a link between then and now.

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