Thursday, September 6, 2012

Taking Pictures

My dad was in the army for most of his life. In the late 1960s/early 1970s he was stationed in Europe. He really never talked too much about this part of this life. I think a major part of it was just my dad's personality. He never sought for the spotlight, he did his job and his duty, honestly and well, but without any pomp.  And there is the whole national security thing about being in military, loose lips sink ships and all.

 I’ve been reading his journals from his early army days, and while he was always respectful and proud of his service and duty to his nation, sometimes the army and the drills and the threat of war and real war was just hard to take all in. And in all this, and maybe because of all this, he bought a camera while living in the lands across the sea. This camera, to be exact:

Nikkormat became Nikon in 1988 , just so you know that it is real camera.

And he took this camera everywhere:

Labels from inside the slide tins

And all these trips to everywhere resulted in hundreds of slides:

And several dozen rolls of "Made in Germany," film
I like to think that this camera opened up the big wide world to small town boy from Oregon. I like to think this camera gave him a little bit of sanity and peace and a creative outlet, and a little knowledge and self-confidence that his story is important.

Until last week, I never knew about these slides. I wish, wish, wish, that I could hear the stories behind them all. Why didn’t my dad ever pull them out and show us? There is a little bit of sadness in the loss of the stories behind each image, but I’m glad we have them; captured little moments of my dad’s life.  

 I think that sometimes it takes everything to just get through life, that when we finish a chapter of our life we move ahead, looking forward and forget, or sometimes try to forget on purpose, those experiences that made us stretch and grow, sometimes against our wills, and often way more than we wanted. Phew, glad that is over.  We get older, we add experiences and chapters to our books of life and just get further away from our origin stories. We move on with our lives, we move our homes; memories and stories and slides get packed up and placed on shelves in the basement. They aren’t unloved, they were kept after all, these slides were moved across the country, stored in at least half a dozen apartments and houses, but for the past little while, they lived in the shadow of ongoing storylines and current plot twists.

Looking at the slides through the retro-awesome viewer

Somewhere along the way the camera broke and maybe by that time, parts where too hard to find or expensive to purchase. Although I never knew about the slides,  I do always remember seeing this camera laying around our house, a little witness of past adventures.  And now it sits in my house, right next to Clive, as inspiration for some new adventures.  

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