Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Missing Photos

Archiving the family photographs, unless one is exceptionally diligent, always is a bit of an imprecise endeavor. Albums are big and heavy, hard to organize, and, because they are somewhat expensive, have a tendency to "edit" those pictures that may not "make the grade." Shoe boxes, while inclusive and simple to use, also tend to "bury" a wanted photo- "Let me think, was it '97 or '98? It's here somewhere..." Digital storage is the newest option, certainly more compact, but as the number of image files grows, it too becomes unwieldy. Its fate in long-term storage may be susceptible to other pitfalls as well.

But none of these issues address the situation of deliberately destroying photos that may be deemed "unseemly" in the context of family history. In the early sixties, my parents attended a "neighborhood" party. A group of couples converged for an evening of socialization and cocktails- no children present. A camera was present and evidently after several drinks pictures were taken of various couples in passionate embraces. These couples were not married. To each other, that is.

These pictures were processed and remained in the bottom of the family's photo shoe box for many years. I would look at them from time to time, wondering just what our parents had been thinking. And then, they were gone. There isn't any chance of my children finding a similar cache- we barely know our neighbors. Perhaps it is better that those pictures have gone missing. What were no doubt innocent party games in the "soaring sixties" have grown in the imagination to something more exotic and daring...

... on the other hand, perhaps they're already on Flickr?

By Professor Batty


Blogger Rose said...

Your story reminded me of my grandmother's photo album. In her oldest album, when she was newly married and a young mother, every picture of her husband had been ripped out. The album has missing pictures, pictures torn in half...and so on. No one knows what her first husband looked like, or any details of his life. Family legend has it that they were the most handsome couple in their small town, he was the son of a prominent banker, and that he embezzled money from his father's bank. After which time my grandmother divorced him and seldom mentioned his name or existence again. Amazingly, my mother didn't know until she was an adult that her sister was actually her half-sister, with a different father entirely!

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