In a recent burst of organizational energy, I’ve been trying to weed out the huge numbers of photographs we have collected over the years. Photos hide in boxes gathering dust, or in file folders and envelopes. There are a remarkable number of photos in albums. When I say “in albums” that doesn’t necessarily mean “pasted in albums.” The majority of them are floating around looking for the little black sticky corners that once did the job but eventually lost their grip. There are yellowed pieces of Scotch tape that have turned cracked and brittle. Who knows what they once held securely in place?
There are a few tiny black-and-white pictures. Some have elegant script messages on the back. All are very posed. There’s one, full of creases from being folded, of a bearded man feeding chickens on the back steps. It’s my great-grandfather, a Civil War veteran, who spent time in Andersonville Prison Camp.
I can see where a lot of good intentions produced some creative starts. On the last page of one book there’s a picture of a moving truck parked and loading up in the driveway of our former Connecticut home. On the first page of the next album we are eating pizza in an empty Vermont house, awaiting the arrival of aforesaid truck with all our worldly belongings.
In subsequent pages is our old dog, clearly puzzled by country living after a lifetime of being tied up in a busy neighborhood. Shortly thereafter, there is no more old dog, but then, a puppy frolicking in the snow.
Recorded faithfully is the house painting, brought about all in one day by our children and an army of their pals to make ready for our daughter’s wedding.
There is the wedding, more weddings and then babies.
The first grandchild shows up in an enormous number of photos. His every smile, step, hair cut, Christmas tree, all are recorded from every angle. He’ll be a freshman at Kansas University this fall and his parents will have to take over the photography duties for the momentous occasion.
There are photos everywhere. A major source of bulk comes from carefully labeled shoe boxes, stuffed with prints from “two-for-one” days, as well as strips of negatives that had been saved in order to make even more prints.
There are pictures of the outdoor thermometer displaying -30 and pictures of same thermometer showing 95. There are shots of the snow blower at work for nearly every winter since we’ve lived here. Why would we want to remember that? And, because we live in Vermont, there are thousands and thousands of foliage shots.
Now, we have digital cameras and all photographs are snuggled into a special queue within the computer. Before e-mailing we can shave pounds, lift jowls and darken hair. We can admire new living-room furniture the day it arrives. We can check out a prom dress. We can see new kittens, new cars, new hair do’s.
We can send out thousands of foliage shots.