Monday, August 10, 2015

Ambushed By Memories

Borepatch and I were discussing memories last night. He's going through old boxes, clearing out his house to put it on the market. It isn't just the work of opening boxes and sorting, throwing away or donating the unneeded. It's opening a box and finding a book and sitting there remembering reading that book 437 times to little kids before bedtime. It's coming across a box of pictures you haven't seen for 15 years and sitting there flipping through them ambushed by the memories they evoke.

It reminds you of who you were and what your dreams and plans were when you were young.

I took 35mm slides and pictures for years, always liked photography. I have births, birthdays, holidays, trips to the beach, my trips overseas, sometimes just a  few quick shots taken on a summer day or playing in the snow in February. The slides are all in carousels, the pictures are in albums or in the paper envelopes they used to come back from the developer in. There are thousands of them.

No one wants them, really. I know the kids don't and who else could possibly care at all? My plan is to scan the best of them, a daunting task just to do a tithe of them, and to make some sense of it, write some text for each folder, put them in a file structure and then burn them to DVDs. I can make copies for each of them. And I know that they will never look at them all. One thing I'd have to do is make a short slide show with a few of the best ones and maybe they might look at it once. Maybe.

I have come to accept that these are my pictures and when I look at them they trigger memories for me, but these things that mean so much to me mean nothing to the rest of the world. I really don't know if there is any point in scanning them, but I understand that if I decide to do the work, it will be just for myself and my own satisfaction.

There a antique store/junk shop in town. I go in there at lunch time sometimes and walk around. In the back there is a table with some old film cameras and lenses and a big box full of photographs. They were all important to someone once. Now they are all jumbled together and you can have one for a dollar. They are disconnected from their history. You don't know who they are or anything about their lives beyond what the image reveals.

There's a lesson in that box about memories and the things we think we are preserving.
Every death is like the burning of a library.
  --Alex Haley


STxAR said...

Not sure why, but I've been getting hammered with memories lately. My wife noted that, yesterday. I feel your pain. I'm trying to figure out what to with my stuffed rabbit I got 50 years ago. My mom saved all that stuff. Even part of blanket I had as a kid.

Alex Haley, you are so correct.

Borepatch said...

Awesome post

juvat said...

You're a wise man, my friend. Thanks.

abnormalist said...

So, as a child of photo-trigger happy parents, and a grand child of those who were not. I will say that they may well have value to your children, at least once they have children of their own.

There is a sense of history there that some of the little ones want. A footing in a wild changing world, that shows them they came from somewhere and someone and have a set of roots that can matter.

I think the idea of scanning them is a good one, and I recommend willing them to what ever grandchild seems the most introverted. They may well help inspire that child.

waepnedmann said...

I call it " stepping on land mines."

Paul Bonneau said...

I've got boxes of slides and prints and negatives too. I just keep schlepping them around, along with the Nikkormat camera and lenses I used to take them, whenever we move (which really ain't that often). It's easier to do that than to organize them digitally. I'll let my son deal with that when I kick the bucket. Kick the can down the road...

Will said...

Looking at photos of our parents (born 20's) and their parents, and photos they took along the way, gave us a perspective on their lives that we couldn't get otherwise.

All those old photos were held by two of my sisters, and they were slowly being digitized. Unfortunately, one had stored the largest collection (a full file box) in her garage, and mice ate them all.

Human history has been looted by termites and mice.