Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Places of the past and present

Places of the past and the present. Those places you see every day. Those where you stop by to visit a friend or maybe just drive through on the way to somewhere else. Many were the places around Neff Road. Some were from the past and no longer exist. Some had nicknames that a younger generation might not recognize.

Swamp Poodle, Red River, Landis. Little villages that disappeared as time went on. Stores closed and the new railroad in Bradford took many away to another town. We usually went to downtown Bradford once a year for the Pumpkin Show. When I was small, we sometimes visited the church in Red River. We passed through Potsdam and went to high school in Pitsburg. Dad got his hair cut in Gettysburg. Mom and I hung out at the furniture store. My first sofa came from Pitsburg.

We visited family in many towns: the Hollingers in Greenville, the Langstons in Troy, Mom's cousin Almeda in Phillipsburg, the Johnsons in Bradford. Our friends the Weikerts lived in Greenville and the Brethren Home was often a stop whenever we were in town. The Elikers, another dear family, were in New Madison. When I was in high school, I had a good friend, Susie Miller, Gordon. I learned about North Star when my sisters went to college, a trip across the state line into Indiana.

We went to Celina to the lake. We went to Hagerstown, Indiana, for the buffet and to Richmond to shop. Laura, West Milton, Pleasant Hill. All little towns we drove through when we went away and then came back again.

For those of us who have moved away, these are towns with memories attached. Even those that slipped away and those like Rip Town, which is really Painter Creek, and Red Rive.r where I walked to the little store on the corner. still live in the memories of us who have all too quickly become the older generation.

Why am I taking this road trip from town to town? It dawned on me that I had not really taken time to get to know those towns surrounding the farm where I spent eighteen years of my life. I never walked the streets of West Milton to see what is there. On my last visit, I actually walked around Covington. A first for me. I never sat in a cafe and talked to the local people. I never took time to pay attention. I was born in Piqua but have never taken time to look around the town. I passed through those places as I speedily as I did my youth. I think perhaps if I moved back now, I would take time and allow my roots to grow a bit deeper.

Places in the past and the present.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Camera Says it All

The camera says it all. It cannot lie. It sees only what lies in front of the lens. It sees more than the focus of the photographer. This morning I watched a segment on George Steinmetz, a photographer for National Geographic. His images are breathtaking and inspiring. Today photos are taken on cell phones and left stored in said phone or digital camera. I have often wondered what happens to those photos if the phone or camera is destroyed. Where does that history go? What has been lost forever?

Many cameras have passed during my lifetime: Box camera, Brownie, Polaroid (black and white photos), Instamatic, etc, etc. The list goes on. I remember finding a dark corner in which to drop a roll of film into the camera, attaching it over little catches then pulling a lever to advance the film. Then drop in film came along. Now we have digital that does it all….except take it off the phone or camera. 

The photographer captures a photo saving the moment. A moment important enough to warrant the focus of the person behind the lens.  I stood at an estate sale looking into a box of old photos tossed randomly and carelessly. My heart ached knowing that no one cared about the past of these people. No one saw the worth in the photos.  I knew that the box would be discarded at the end of the sale. A box of a lifetime of events would be gone forever.

My photos are stored in an old trunk. I call it my treasure chest. It hold pictures taken long before I was born. Pictures taken by various members of my family. Pictures showing me a time when I didn't exist. Being the observer that I am, I find each and every picture exciting. I look beyond the focus which is usually a person or a group of people. I look at the background finding answers and sometimes more questions in the buildings and roads, the rooms and the clothing. I see a progression of transportation from the horse and carriage to the old Edsel my grandfather owned. The farms buildings changed. Gone was the old tobacco shed replaced with a metal barn. Trees stood in places where in my lifetime they were gone. I saw the faces of my generations past.  I saw those I'd always heard about but never saw. Even in those photos where I don't recognize anyone, I have a piece of history. I can't imagine a world without these images. Even the images of someone else would have worth to me. They are the history of all of us.

I love to pick up my camera and have a photo day with my grandchildren. I can teach them to look at more than just the focus of the picture. I can teach them to look beyond what they see. We share time that is priceless and have pictures we look at time and time again to remind us of that day.  Both granddaughters have a very creative eye. They are learning to preserve what they see and not take it for granted. They are the recorders of history. Put a camera in the hands of a child and the world just might someday learn from that child. And….the child learns about this wonderful world. 

 The camera says it all.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Tie that Binds

I will still write for the Greenville Advocate and post the column here. Here is this week's column.

It was on a field trip in elementary school the first time I crossed it. I hadn't thought about it for years. The boys stood in the middle of the bridge bouncing it. I just wanted to get on the other side. Many, many years later I would cross it with my family. My son and son-in-law also insisted on bouncing the bridge. Boys will be boys. But that first time is etched in my mind.

Going to Greenville, visiting the library, walking through Garst Museum, going to Memorial Hall, wading in the fountain in the park then later swimming in the pool, walking across the swinging bridge were all big events for a country girl. Our class trips took us out of our cocoons into a bigger, interesting world. From the swinging bridge and our first train ride in second grade, we advanced to the 1965 World Fair in New York City. We took another train that took us to the biggest city we had ever seen. We stayed in a hotel, visited China Town and went to the top of the Empire State Building. We saw Alain Delon in movie The Yellow Rolls Royce at Radio City Music Hall. It was there we also saw a ballet where dancers danced beneath a blue fabric sea. We visited distant countries at the World's Fair. And, we returned home on the train with a casket of a young soldier in the baggage car.

From grade school to high school, we were given new experiences that helped give us wings to fly. I was one of the first students to attend Wright State University. Had I known they were going to have a great theatre program, I would have stayed. I was given the courage to step beyond what I knew to experience new things. I was sent as a state representative for the FHA when I was a freshman. It was the first time I had been away from everyone I knew and a first time to be out on my own. I survived and became a stronger woman for the experience. Our teachers opened the world to us. I received a wonderful background in my English classes that has been a gift to this woman. We had teachers who wanted us to succeed....and we did.

We walked across a swinging bridge. We sat onboard our first train. We shared experiences with our classmates for twelve years. Now we are scattered. But the roots of Neff Road run deep. Blest be the ties that bind.

Thank You

Dear Readers,

In case you have wondered where I have been, I have been contemplating. My blogs began in July 2009. I think perhaps the blogs saved my sanity when I was struggling so much with unemployment and family problems. When your head is full of words, it helps to have a place to write them.

Writing about home has been a journey into my life back that lane on Neff Road. The more I wrote, the more I found out about myself. I found things in family records that I had never known. I gained new and old friends from my home place.

So what am I saying? I'm not sure I have much to offer any more. I feel the well is dry and am left with fewer words of wisdom. I don't know that I will give up these pages as they are the days of my life. I will write on occasion, but don't wait for me. This has been my journal. This has been the life of my family. It is a journey that still I live.

I give one final wish for all of you. You are a power in the world. You have the power each day to change the life of another for the better. We all have a chance to share laughter and positive thoughts. Let's continue to make a difference.

My love and thanks to you,


Monday, February 4, 2013

The rest of the story