Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Picture Past

Eh, I’m in the middle. Cute kid. Peg is behind me. June is in the back. I see Gary Fourman. I wonder if that’s Darrell on his lap? The little blond in the front looks like she might be a Spitler. Hm.

I have stacks and stacks of pictures. I could throw them away, but it seems wrong. These are pictures of people who passed through my life, that of my parents and even that of their parents. I have some old tintypes with stern people looking at the camera waiting for the powder to explode. These pictures are history.

A few years ago someone gave two ancient photo albums to me. They are filled with the same type of pictures of people who were never part of my life. These people are from Oregon. My people are from Ohio. Yet I look at these pictures and appreciate the lives these people lead. There is history in their clothing, their faces, their postures. I delight in imagining their stories. I see in their faces the burdens that another time presented them. They are reflections of Oregon’s past, of the past of these United States.

Mom rarely wrote names on pictures, and some she wrote I know are not the people she named. It’s a bit of a challenging, a guessing game naming these faces from long ago. Faces I didn’t know or was too young to remember. Yet, these pictures will remain here for other generations to contemplate in the same way.

These kids sitting in the circle of grass behind our house, the grass that I would someday mow, are not the neighborhood kids. I’m pretty sure they are kids from Painter Creek Church. I love looking at my chubby cheeks and curly hair. I think I would have liked me as a baby. Peggy always so pretty but never believed it. June’s sweet face with her devilish smile. Little girls in dresses and sweet little shoes that now would be jeans and tee-shirts. A time long gone.

Dad’s old trailer stands at the back by the corn crib. I’d forgotten about it. The old garage stands as a reminder of our first outhouse and mice, a dirt floor and the smell of oil. A blinking light on the wall reminded us that the electric fence surrounding the field was on. Reminders of a time, a way of life long ago. A picture of things that are no more.

Yes, I love these old pictures. Someone held the camera that captured these moments, these people who wanted to have a piece of their history preserved, a memory, a family, a place.

We are the keepers. We hold the history.

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