25 Apr 2015
I was rearranging some bookshelves to make room for a few new books when it happened. I was in for a surprise and did not quite know it. There behind some books on my bookshelf was an old family photo album I had not seen in years.
When I say old, I mean these were pictures taken when cameras were really cameras with film in them. Nobody knows what those cameras were like today.
Today, you take a picture and instantly it is on your cell phone. Back in “the day” cameras had film in the and you had to buy film and then when you took the pictures you had to take the film out and send it away and hopefully within four weeks you get those pictures back.
Sometimes when those pictures did come back, nobody could remember them. We had to get together and sort them out because my father usually took all the pictures.
My father was a great camera buff, not a good photographer, but he had his camera with him everywhere and was always taking pictures. One thing my father could not understand was, you had to pose the picture and adjust the lens so it would be clear. He just pointed the camera and click.
I remember one summer we went to the mountains for a week’s vacation and as usual, father brought his camera along and clicked all week long. We could hardly wait to get back and get those pictures processed so we could relive our vacation.
That was the longest four weeks of my life. Every day someone in the family would say, “Have the pictures arrived yet?” It got so bad that when anybody started a sentence with “Have the…” my father just glared and nobody could finish the sentence.
Finally, they arrived. Everybody was excited to relive our summer vacation around the old family table. At least we thought we were going to do that.
As we look at the pictures and passed them around everybody had a very puzzled look on their face. Nobody could remember the pictures.
My father stepped in to clear up the situation. “Yes, yes,” he said, “these are wonderful pictures and that is you, don’t you recognize yourself?”
Well, I didn’t. In fact, nobody recognized any of those pictures.
Then mother stepped in. You know how it is, mothers always solve problems. Well, she solved our problem.
She looked at father and said, “Dear, where did we spend our vacation this summer?”
That seemed like a very interesting question and rather irritated my father.
“You know,” he growled, “we spent our vacation in the mountains. What’s wrong with you?”
Mother was quiet for a moment and then in almost a whisper she said, “If we spent our vacation in the mountains why are there so many pictures of the beach?”
My father stared at her and then stared at the pictures and I cannot repeat what he said. He never liked it when mother was right.
For some reason we got somebody else’s vacation pictures who were at the beach and probably they had our pictures of our vacation in the mountains. I would have loved to been around the table at that home with everybody trying to figure out why there were so many trees and mountains in their family vacation at the beach.
Those were wonderful days and leafing through my photo album from the past, I saw many pictures I did not recognize. In some of these pictures, there was a little boy I did not quite recognize. In fact, there were many pictures I did not recognize, but this little boy puzzled me.
I always thought I had a good memory, but this really perplexed me. Who was this little boy that was part of my life 60 years ago or so?
My wife noticed I was grimacing as I looked at the photographs. Incidentally, all of the photographs were black-and-white. Most do not remember those days. Finally, my wife queried me on what was going on.
“I just cannot figure out who this little boy is in all these pictures.”
I handed the photographs to her, she looked at them and then a smile began dancing across her face.
“You really don’t know who that little boy is,” she said flippantly.
When I assured her I had no idea who that little boy was, she broke out in hearty laughter. I did not think it was funny. There was this little boy all through my photographs and I do not know who he was.
“Why,” she said when she could speak, “that little boy is you.” Then she commenced her laughing parade.
I looked again and I really could not believe it. Here was this cute little boy with a mischievous smile on his face and it was me. I have looked in the mirror many a time and that cute little face has long ago disappeared. Whatever happened to that cute little boy in the photographs? When does cute stop being cute? And why?
David might have been thinking along this line when he wrote, “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works” (Psalms 71:17).
I like to think that under all of the grimacing and scowling and wrinkles there is that cute little boy that was once me.