Sunday, October 9, 2016

More memories...

More memories ... from my mom's photo collection.  It's family day today!

This is an undated studio portrait of my sister Holly.  I'm guessing it was from the early '70s (and she'd have been in her late teens), and was taken after I'd left home to join the U.S. Navy.  The original is an 8x10 on fancy embossed paper, and my mom wrote “Holly” on the back – I guess mom thought we wouldn't recognize her. :)  Gotta love those octagonal glasses frames!  From the distortion of her face through her left lens (right side of the photo), you can tell that she already had a fairly high prescription for myopia, just as I did at that age.  I'm struck by the necklace she's wearing (a little cross) – an overtly religious symbol that I wasn't aware anyone in my family ever displayed.

In fountain pen, my mom wrote “Acadia Park”, meaning Acadia National Park on the coast of Maine.  I have many wonderful memories of the coast of Maine, including Acadia National Park; we visited there nearly every summer while we were at our camp near Lincoln, Maine.  This photo is dated (by the lab) December 1959.  Left-to-right that's my brother Scott, my dad, and me, looking in the tide pools (where there are all sorts of fascinating things).  My dad had a lifelong fascination with tide pools; when he spotted a rocky shoreline, that's where he wanted to go.  On a conversation during one of our many trips, he told me about the many happy days he spent along the rocky coast near Naples, Italy during the war.  Whenever he had a short time off, he'd hitch a ride to some point near the coast, and spend some hours hiking around the tide pools there.

This is a very nice portrait of my dad, circa the late '90s.  It's an undated studio shot, and if you look closely you can see that my mom has been clipped out of the frame.  That sounds like something she would do – she was always ashamed of her appearance, and absolutely hated photographs of herself.  It's one of the reasons I cherish the few photos I do have of her.  This photo shows my dad during the last years when his physicality was still high.  It would only be a few years until he struggled to hike even easy trails.

Here's one that triggers lots of memories for me.  The lab dates this February 1962, but given there are still leaves on the trees, it was probably really taken in the fall of '61.  My brother Scott is on the left, me on the right.  We're sitting on the left rear fender of my dad's International 240H tractor, which he bought new in 1959.  In this photo it's just a couple years old, and still looking quite nice.  It got much more beat up over the next decades; my dad kept it until the early '00s.  The building behind us is Julius Mate's little house.  The camera is looking to the southeast.  At the time this photo was taken, south of his house was our greenhouse, where Julius helped my dad propagate cuttings and seedling plants, mostly American holly trees.  I have many memories of working in that greenhouse, of repairing the glass in it, and of tearing it down in the late '60s.  My dad grew cuttings to duplicate a horticultural variety that he liked, and grew seedlings (which all have some genetic variation) in the hopes of discovering new varieties that would be horticulturally valuable.  Once he even sent off some holly berries to Rutgers University, where they were irradiated in the hopes of creating a beneficial mutation.  He gave that up when several hundred irradiated seeds proved mostly non-viable, with the few survivors being most unattractive.

The lab dates this December 1959, but it was almost certainly taken in the summer.  The location is just outside our cabin in Maine; the camera is looking to the north.  I'm on the left, my brother Scott on the right.  On the back my mom wrote “Carting wood into camp!”; I remember doing this many, many times.  The wood stove inside the camp both heated the single room and provided the stove to cook our meals.  You can see the dense undergrowth in the woods behind us, entirely typical of a forest in Maine.  Looking at that I can almost smell the forest there.  You can see a bit of the crude siding the camp was sheathed with, and one end of the sawhorse we used for cutting wood.  Just out of sight was the stump we used as a base for splitting logs for kindling, another thing I remember doing many times.  I'd have been almost seven when this was taken, and my brother about five and a half.  That's probably about the last time I could carry more than he could. :)

And yet another major memory trigger...  This one is also dated December 1959 by the lab.  Like the photo above, it's almost certainly from the preceding summer.  This was taken inside our cabin in Maine.  The rocker that I'm sitting on is now in my barn.  The upholstery is a little threadbare, and it's got a few dings, but I loved it as a kid, and I love it still – so many good memories around it!  Most of those memories involve either my dad (who like to sit in it, and would rock us on his lap) or Doc Johnson (who liked to sit in it while nursing a drink, which he'd occasionally share with me).  I remember that rug, and I remember my grandfather (my mom's dad) telling us the story of how he got it – but I've forgotten the story!  All I remember is that when he told it, all the adults laughed uproariously, and was always worried that one of the local cops might see it.  He'd joke about needing to roll it up if a stranger's car drove in.  On the back, my mom wrote “love this picture in camp -”.  I do, too, mom.  I do, too...

My mom wrote “Scott” on the back of this one, and it's a good thing she did.  I'd never have recognized him in this photo, which is pretty clearly the best he's ever looked. :)  The photo is undated, but he's still wearing his hospital ID bracelet, so it must have been taken within a few days of his birth – in late December of '53.  Look at those little fists, and that expression!  It looks like he's getting ready to punch out someone, doesn't it?

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