Looking at old photos is heart-warming for the sentimental. I enjoy looking not only at my own old photos, but also the photos of others.
Today I have been looking at my Dad’s old photos.
That is the curious thing about old pictures, some people are not that attached to them. My Dad bought a camera and took enough pictures to fill an album when he was in the army. He developed his own pictures before he became busy with kids. He did keep the pictures he took.
The pictures that his mother had of him as a little boy and young man, however, he had no attachment to whatever.
After his mother died he put the old pictures that she had in the basement! They were virtually all ruined. I finally scanned some of what survived today. He took good care of the pictures that he took as a young man. Why didn’t he care about the pictures from when he was a child? I asked him. He just told me that he isn’t sentimental.
I even like stranger’s old pictures. I wonder about their stories. Were they happy? Did they only try to look formal and stiff because they thought that was how to pose for a photo?
People once posed in very series expressions with very stiff positions. In one of the “abandoned” old pictures of my Dad’s childhood they all look incredibly uncomfortable. My grandparents never smiled in a picture.
Finally when my Dad started taking pictures after he came home from the army his parents began to smile once in a while in snapshots. I wonder if all that stiff, formality was part of going to have a professional picture taken? My Dad looked miserable on the formal portraits of him and his brother before his brother went into the navy. What did they say to him? Did they tell him the pictures were to keep a memory if his brother was killed? Or did he have to stand very still for an incredibly long time?
My Dad was the younger brother, by the way, don’t let size fool you. Is it the wretched expression of the sixteen year old having to stay at home with Mom and Dad while his brother goes off to see the world, win a war and gain glory and adventure?
That is more or less what my Dad said he thought of the war. Right until he was on a troop ship heading off to sea. Then it became real. He said that it was not until then that he realized he could die or be maimed. My Dad was blessed that when he arrived on the other side of the ocean the war had only three days left. He didn’t know when he set sail it was to be a switchboard operator in the occupation force.
He probably doesn’t remember that particular portrait, but I’ll have to ask him about all those professional portraits. He does remember that as a very young boy he was the one rubbing the fabric of his short pants. He was never good at holding still. Perhaps that is why he never liked the professional portraits his mother had. That could explain how they ended up in the basement.