1973

12/30/2010

uploaded for downsizing

Urgency Day 232

500 Things Items 268-73: 6 Picture Frames

  • History: Before Facebook there were frames
  • Value: Quite a bit through the years
  • Parting Pain: I’m tying to just keep swimming
  • Un-possessing: Gifts or donations

We used to take pictures. Now we upload images.

I know I’m not the first person to make that observation, but today there is more poignancy than usual to that sentiment.

“For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas”

I can recall the summer of 1973 in aching detail. It was the last we would spend at my grandmother’s beach house, and being the last softens every memory in golden tones of nostalgia. We weren’t photographers, any of us, but we took a lot of pictures. I had a Kodak Instamatic, the black nubby-plastic one that you would attach a “flashcube” to for taking pictures in low-light. The pictures came back from the drugstore square with white edges. I can still smell the film cartridge and hear the distinctive snap of the film advancer.

I didn’t know enough about good photography to know that I shouldn’t enjoy these pictures; I just took them. I captured random moments and posed impatient groups. Some are of my family, though not enough were taken of my shy grandparents; a few are of a silly gray kitten named Smoky I adopted that last summer. One I treasure particularly is of my eighteen-year old cousin and his two best friends, flexing strong-man biceps and hamming it up for the camera. They were beautiful, three tanned surfers, and I adored them. My awkward eleven-year old self believed that when they were mugging for my camera, they were flirting with me.

In that same summer of 1973, Paul Simon had his hit song, Kodachrome, and I can still sing every word. We weren’t aware that summer would be our last at my grandmother’s house, which leaves it blissfully untainted by tearful goodbyes and unburdened by Lasts: last dish drying with my sister; last cuddle with a maturing gray cat; last screen-door slam.

My Instamatic didn’t take Kodachrome but within a few years of that summer, Kodak stopped making the film cartridges and flashcubes it did take. All of it is consigned to history.

Now, I upload images, everyday– for this blog, for sharing with distant family and friends– and I do marvel at the ease of it all. And of course, I appreciate the ability to perfect the images, to clean up a red eye or even insert the photographer into the group after the fact. Still…

So few of my photos now have the significance of being passed around a gathered group, relief or horror gasped after the first quick peek. Even fewer are turned into actual pictures and put into frames. Digital frames are fine I suppose, but then again it’s not a picture, one precious picture, preserved and treasured.

Yes, film fades, so do memories. 1973 and the beach and sweet pictures of summer-warm boys feel very far away. And Kodachrome.

Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day.

oh yeah


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6 Responses to “1973”

  1. jim Says:

    And the joy/problem with digital cameras is that you are constantly taking more and more pictures many times not really seeing what is around you! On the other hand, you can print only those few that you ‘really’ like! By the way, I’m looking for frames that can hold 8 X 10 pics from Italy!

    • sthibeault Says:

      This is my biggest complaint about digital cameras: too many images! They don’t take up the room that all my old photos do, but they weigh on me just the same.

      FYI: any frame, any time. But really, these cast-offs would not do Italy pictures justice!

  2. jim Says:

    So, you were eleven in 1973 – I feel so old!

  3. Bill Says:

    Yes, I was one of the surfers. It was the best of times. Great memories. I wish I could go back.

  4. melanie Says:

    I still love that Simon and Garfunkel song – all of it: the sentiment, words, tune. And thank you to you for reminding me on this nostalgic day, one that begs for a review of the past year, of the sentiment of what a relief it is to NOT know when the “last” of something has occurred.

    Happy new year. In your words, here’s to a new year where you continue to lose the stuff and continue to find new experiences.

  5. Donna Says:

    Even though the picture quality is better now, we don’t seem to spend the happy times together looking through lovingly-assembled photo albums, huddled shoulder-to-shoulder so everyone can see. “Well, something’s lost, but something’s gained in living every day…”


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