Friday, October 25, 2013

Technology ~~ A "Sepia Saturday" Post!

This is the 200th anniversary of Sepia Saturday! I've participated off and on during the past four years, and didn't want to miss being part of its special week. Therefore, in accordance with this week's guidelines, I'm reprinting my favorite Sepia Saturday post, from March 26th, 2011. This and most (if not all) of this week's other Sepia Saturday entries will be published in a book called -- appropriately enough -- The Best of Sepia Saturday.

(Be sure to check out other Sepia Saturday entries!)

*  *  *  *  *

Every parent, so they say, dreams that his or her child (or children) will have a better life than the parent had. A better education, better financial status, a better marriage (if that applies), etc.

There were more technological advances during the span of my mother's life than I could list, even in a post of my usual entry's length. And say what you will about some of the downsides of "progress," we certainly have it easier in many more ways than those who lived in 1917, when my mother was born.

My mom lived to see high-definition, flat-screen televisions. When she was born, radio hadn't even entered its golden age. Commercial air travel hadn't even gotten off the ground... errr... so to speak. And I could go on.

Even during my own childhood, computers were enormous monstrosities that filled half a room. Using one of those babies as a "laptop" would crush you to death.

Now, of course, we have "personal computers."

And we have eBay.

Thanks to eBay, I now own something my own mother never got to own (due to its expense), but should have: Her high school yearbook, from 1935!

Northern Lights was the name of the yearbooks issued by North High School in Worcester, Massachusetts (during the 1930s, anyway). I recently purchased one at a relatively modest sum from an eBay dealer. The copy I own was originally the property of Alice I. Maki, an attractive blonde whom I can only assume is no longer with us... like my mom.

Upon receiving it, I read the thing cover to cover before leaving the post office lobby, looking for my mother's main yearbook entry, and any other listings, photos, etc. of my mom's senior year. There weren't many. I'm sure her chores at home kept her from being a social butterfly.

But I did expect at least one or two music-related activities, and I wasn't disappointed.

It didn't take me long to spot my mom's photo among the many students shown above.

It would have been nice if I'd thought to look for this a few years ago, when my mom was not only alive, but when her vision was still good enough for her to appreciate such a find. At least I have the comfort of knowing that it's not something I thought of and then characteristically put off doing until it was too late. That would bother me.

Before I even received my package, it occurred to me that, even if she had never owned one herself, my mom might have autographed Alice's copy. And I was right!

That was a nice touch. Almost like a brief note from my mom to her son and daughter, which "only" waited 75 years before we got to see it.

Gotta love eBay.

Thanks for your time.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Damaged Goods ~~ A "Sepia Saturday" Post

This week's Sepia Saturday theme deals with the less-than-perfect photos that we've all taken at one time or another. For me, those would probably be many images taken when I was in high school, briefly studying photography when I was a member of my school's Audio-Visual Club.

Unfortunately, I destroyed the “evidence” years ago.

My mom's side of the family had a minor love affair going on with the camera, but if there were any shots which were inadequate in any major way – and I'm sure there were – they were thrown out like my own poor attempts years later.

Therefore, I've decided to focus – the pun is unavoidable – on a few photographs which survived, although severely damaged.

1. This jigsaw puzzle masquerading as a photograph actually shows myself and my kindergarten classmates in the Fall of 1961. (And luckily for me, I have a black & white 8” x 10” of the same image.) Where am I, you may well ask, since there's no one there dressed in black, nor wearing a beard? Heh. I'm the second on the left in the front row... the one whose attention is focused elsewhere. Believe it or not, 50+ years later, I can still name most of the children in that photo. And if any of you are wondering – and I know some of you are – out of the seven girls in my class, I had crushes on three of them.

2. I used this next photo in a much older Sepia Saturday post. I'm repeating it with my original description attached and only slightly edited..

The following shot is one I couldn't even begin to restore. Surprisingly enough, the first time I ever saw it was at my mother's apartment, only a few years ago. Quite frankly, it's trashed... yet it's obvious why my mother saved it, preserved from further damage in a little Ziploc bag along with a piece of cardboard to keep it from bending.

It's a picture of my mom's sister Josie, lovingly holding her fifteen-years-younger sibling, my mother Anita. (It's also one of the few early shots of my mom actually smiling, rather than grimacing due to -- I assume -- the era's annoying necessity of the photo's subject(s) having to stare into the blinding sun whenever photographs were taken!) What's left of the caption hand-written in ink on the lower border reads "Sisters" and "April." (Although a lot of these little notations have faded into illegibility over the years, I remain grateful to my mother and whoever else supplied these bits of written information on the various early family photos. It's helped me a lot in terms of names and dates, obviously.)

Going through literally hundreds of photos as I began this task of posting my family's history, I was frustrated at the missing lower right-hand corner of this photo, however. "April of what year?" I wondered. I estimated it as being between 1921 and 1923. But luck was with me. In with a separate group of photos, I found one of Aunt Josie, standing alone on the very same steps, in the very same outfit, plainly labeled "April, 1922." So my mom was four-and-a-half years old, making this the second-oldest photo of her that I have! 

And here's the shot from April 1922 that helped me to solve the mini-mystery!

3. Hm. Not sure who tore this next photograph in half, but it sure looks deliberate!

 This shot of myself, age 5 or 6, proves once and for all what I've been claiming for years: I am a superhero!

4.  I recently posted about how my mom saved practically all of my dad's papers from his service in World War II.  Unfortunately, aside from a sole baby picture, there are no photos of my father from before their 1940 wedding. My Aunt Irene (my father's sister) once told me that my dad was quite a good dancer in his younger years... a talent sadly robbed from him, due to his WWII injuries.

I can't place a date on this photo, but I have to assume it was taken in the early 1940s. I also have to assume that his dancing partner is my mom. This horribly scratched-up snapshot was probably kept as a reminder of better times...

And after all, isn't that what most photos do? Remind us of better times? That often seems to be the case.

And, as always, thanks for your time.

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