Sunday, August 21, 2005

nostalgia bore

I'm a total photo bore; I can spend hours looking at them, even if they're nothing to do with me. Whenever I'm at my 95 year old grandmother-in-law's house I ask her to pull out the old box of snaps and "talk about the war" (which she loves to do since she can't remember what she had for lunch or my name any more). In her case, she was a Mennonite refugee escaping Ukraine after the Russian Revolution. Today I re-gained access to a bunch of my own old photos and was struck by how sometimes you'll find one that reflects a brief moment in a past time that can call up these vivid sensations -- even if you never actually lived them yourself. Is this a kind of genetic memory I wonder?

This photo is titled "Me and my girl in the jungles of St. Joe -- summer 1923." You can almost hear a tinny Charleston playing at the beach house while Sylvia and George pose coyly. What's he doing with his hand? Is that actually a bathing suit he's wearing? And where is St. Joe?

Here we are back in Ukraine in my great grandfather-in-law's store. It may be taken the same year but it's definitely a different era from Sylvia and George and their plans to go to a talkie in downtown Winnipeg that evening.

Fast forward to the 1950s and there's my dad (Sylvia and George's son) with his bags, Bryl Cream and 1951 Pontiac. I think he's on the way to meet Scooter and Biffy at The White Spot Drive-In for a chicken pot pie and Coke float.

And here are Hal and Chris (my
maternal grandparents) living the good life on Eustace's boat, late 1950s. The only thing you can't see is the martini. When they were doing road trips all over Mexico, where they lived most of their lives, she would drive and he'd light the cigarettes.

We must have hit "the modern age" because it's a colour photo! This is me at the lake, pouring water on my adored godfather's feet. I probably lit his stogie for him and put Sinatra At the Sands on the hi-fi for his listening pleasure.


Blogger kyknoord said...

There's just something evocative about black and white photos. My wife also likes digging through photos, although she likes separating them into ones she is 'going to use' and 'the rest' - i.e. two arbitrary piles which all end up being stuffed back into the same box when the mood passes.

21/8/05 10:45 p.m.  
Blogger L'Oiseau said...

Thank-you! I really enjoyed those. Yesterday, I pulled out (of the last of our stored boxes) an album my mum gave me for christmas a couple of years ago. It contains a selection of favourite photos from my grandma's collection and is one of my most treasured possessions.

22/8/05 12:32 a.m.  
Blogger onclejohann said...

Nostalgia is NEVER boring, not to me anyway. It seems like I've seen these photos before :-) and yet somehow, I never tire of seeing them over and over again. Still love that photo of you in color out of the bunch.

22/8/05 7:23 a.m.  
Blogger ChittyChittyBangBang! said...

I love old photos too and much like KN's wife, I tell myself that I will do something with them one day and never do.

22/8/05 7:42 a.m.  
Blogger penelope said...

Man, those are fantastic! I love your grandmother's sunglasses. I have a pair just like them...but the glass is kind of warped with age. Pity.

22/8/05 2:16 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Kyknoord: I'll have to confess that I'm guilty of the same. Fortunately I have a better half who should've been an archivist and I get to benefit!

L'Oiseau: make sure that album is easily accesible in case of fire!

OJ: That makes *you* a nostalgia bore, too! (Ain't we a pair.)

Chitty: Get them a really nice box and leave it at that. Albums are great, but there's something more satisfying about the tactile thing: viewing, passing them around, etc.

Penelope: Did you see the huge button earrings, too? Granny always wore clip-ons and by the time she was 70 her earlobes hung as low as ... oh never mind. :)

22/8/05 2:30 p.m.  
Blogger carla said...

These are wonderful! I had the opportunity to go through volumes of photo albums when my mother sold her home after living there for over 40's such a trip in the truest sense of the word. I love looking at people frozen in time and wondering who they were and how the story unfolded. Thank you for sharing these. I love the children in the car. The little girl on the left looks so much like one of my sisters when she was little...the only one of six who has dark hair!

23/8/05 6:11 a.m.  
Blogger The Whippy Curly Tails said...

I love your vintage pics...visit my site and you will see mine. My brother is scanning every pic from our mother's scrapebooks...I will finish visiting your entire site. I really enjoy your art work too! =^..^=

26/8/05 5:12 p.m.  

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