Native Writes: Old photos, happy times


I came home recently to find my 15-year-old grandson going through my “this n that” drawer.

He knew the program from his eighth grade Christmas concert would be there.

I keep things like that.

Pondering my habits, I decided to determine what brought them into being.

Among my mom’s belongings were school pictures of her siblings, nieces and nephews, which she had identified by writing on the backs.

She said they were for family members who might want to compile family histories.

I don’t recall anyone ever asking.

Since I was an only child, she had all my school photos, snaggle-toothed grin and all, complete with pigtails. The photo taken for my senior annual is still where I can find it, I’m not so sure about the rest. Laughter guaranteed.

By the time my sons were born and in school, the chronology continued.

There was a wedding photo or two that had survived the shredding and burning of a bitter divorce, as well as pictures of happier times.

The difference is the type of photo produced. Simply taking photos was a ritual. The film had to be purchased, put into the camera, used and sent to Werner for developing ans printing. Forget Kodachrome, all the photos were black and white and told their stories.

Werner, Wilhelm, so many people developed film.

When color film and the processes for developing it came into being, they brought along real expense.

Between my graduation from high school and the day my eldest son was enrolled in Head Start, there were photographic memories of events, times and achievements. I think my mom is the one who photographed my eldest’s first potty training. That photo is more than 50 years old and still hanging around. He spent his final years in high school worried that it would find its way into the Alamosan. Maybe that’s why he became editor.

My family also collected newspaper clippings and school programs, as well as obituary folders.

They weren’t as fascinating as photographs, though.

Or so I thought.

My grandson awakened me.

When I am gone, I hope all the collecting will mean something, even though the “this n that” storage may be electronic.

I hope not. There’s something spiritual about holding the actual items and viewing them.

A great-grandchild may actually want to recall that Christmas concert.

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