Thursday, October 21, 2010

Through The Lens

What do you see through the lens? The Today Show this morning had a segment on the children attending an inner city school in Philadelphia who were given cameras and told to go out and shoot pictures. What they saw was beyond their circumstances. What they saw was beauty where someone else might think there is none.

What would you shoot with your camera should you be set loose on Neff Road? I have albums of photos taken over the generations. Many of the people are totally unknown to me. Yet when I look at the pictures, I see a story. Posed photos of children and family seem to show very little, but do they really? The clothing, the hair styles, the backdrop show quite a lot about the people and the times. Photos reflect the way farms were kept, the dirt driveway, the picket fences, horses and carriages. I even have one of a child being pulled in a small cart by a goat. It was another time than you can hold in your hand, a rich history exposed on paper for distant generations.

When I left the house back Neff Road for the last time, I took pictures of each room. From empty room to empty room I captured the last of my home, my babysitter, my roots. In looking at them at a later time, I may see an empty room, but my mind is filled with memories of a little girl growing up in those rooms. The lens captures what I can no longer experience.

What photos would I capture now should I return to Neff Road? I would take a picture of Margaret's hands. Hands that sewed, hands that canned, hands that reached out to hold my hand. I would take pictures of the tree where my parents initials are carved, those of white siding with red trim around the door that marked a Johnson farm. My camera would capture the polished wood on the pull up doors in Painter Creek Church and an old windmill standing next to the white house back the lane. I would look for the things I took advantage of not noticing their importance. Lavy's porch, Granddad's pond, Uncle Keith's big trees at the end of their lane, Uncle Bob's bulldog shed and the back lane going down to the creek bottom. Those are the memories I would capture. Those are the little things I took for granted.

A few years ago I did take some pictures inside of Granddad's barn. This historical landmark was a marvel when it was built. A bank barn that now resides in the listings of historical barns. The lens captures the memories.

If I could again, if I could step back in time for just one moment, I would take a picture of my parents' hands intertwined, a memory well worth framing.

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