Some Days You Make Pictures; Some Days You Make Memories

Wife Lila was trying to make some space in the guest room closet when she asked, “Did you know there’s a big plastic box of slides and film in here?”

The answer was, “No, but I hope it’s got some stuff in it that I’ve been looking for.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to contain photos of the old St. Francis Hospital before it was torn down or two slide trays from my trip to Philmont Scout Ranch.

Smiles and moisture

It DID have a treasure trove of color slides and black and white photos from 1961, when I got my first 35mm camera, an Argus Autronic 35. I used it to shoot photos of my Trinity Lutheran School classmates, scenics and some family photos that bring a smile to my face and, in a few cases, some moisture to my eyes. (Click on any photo to make it larger.)

I started to make this a piece about the peacocks at Memorial Park Cemetery – even had the photos uploaded and the headline written, but I kinda painted myself into a literary corner and decided to put that photo of Mother and Dad in to get me out of it.

I don’t remember taking it, probably because the moment didn’t mean as much to me then as it does now. I often say that some days you make pictures; other days you make memories. This was one of those cases when I’m glad I made a photograph that lets me fill in a memory that I DIDN’T make at the time.

One day you’ll understand

I think Dad knew what had happened. I can read in his expression, “Kid, one of these days, you’ll understand.”

Composition needed work

We had a pretty back yard, but I don’t think it was nice enough to explain why I cropped the picture the way I did to show more yard than family. That’s Brother David on the left and Mark in the middle.

Chekov’s Gun and the peacocks

“Checkov’s Gun” is a literary rule that says “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired.” Since I brought up peacocks, I guess I better produce them. This was one of several peacock pictures from 1961. You may see others later.

I wrote about the history of Memorial Park and the Tower of Memories in the fall of 2010.

 

Thanksgiving 2011

Family was my Number One Thing to be Thankful for in 2010, and it tops the list again in 2011.

The Steinhoff Family from Florida, Missouri, Colorado and Oklahoma managed to make it back to Cape to celebrate Mother’s 90s Birthday Season. Son Matt shot this group photo. (Click on any image to make it larger.)

He had everything set up earlier in the morning to do the photo in the back yard, but the sun moved and the shadows were bad. He shuffled us over to the side yard where the light was better, but still spotty. He worked fast, mainly because so many of his subjects were young and prone to crankiness and because so many of his subjects were old and he didn’t know how many takes he’d have left.

Matt’s last perfect family portrait

He took much longer to shoot this one of the Florida branch on Easter Sunday 2009. In fact the video I recorded of him arranging everyone, running to get into the photo before the self-timer tripped, checking the camera display, yelling at various of us for minor infractions, then redoing it time and time again, runs 7:46, something that a couple of commenters have complained about. They didn’t get it: it was SUPPOSED to be long. That’s why it’s titled¬†How to Shoot a Family Portrait (In the Real World).

Here’s where you go to see still photos of the extravaganza and / or subject yourself to a 7:46 min video.

They’re both iPad proficient

I’m thankful that my grandsons have had a change to meet and get to know their Great-Grandmother. Malcolm gets to see his great-grandmother only once or twice a year, but they’re close enough that she can kibitz his computer game. There’s not that big a gap between 90 and seven, I suppose, when you both know how to use iPads. Malcolm is Matt and Sarah’s son.

Graham – the newest addition

Mother journeyed to Florida shortly after Graham was born in February (remember our Road Trip back). Graham doesn’t know a stranger. I have a snippet of video right after this still shot was taken that shows him breaking out in a huge grin and reaching for her.

Both of my sons keep in regular contact with their grandmother by phone calls and email. Even though they didn’t grow up in Cape, they feel the same attraction to the area that I do. Graham belongs to Adam and Carly.

Missing from the photo, but not forgotten

Even though Matt wasn’t much older than this when Dad died in 1977 – and Adam hadn’t even been born yet – both boys have heard so many stories and memories that it’s almost like they grew up with him.

Dad may not be in the photograph at the top of the page, but he’s still in the picture for us.

David’s Christmas Bike

While looking through some old converted 8mm home movies, I ran across this snippet of Brother David getting his first bicycle. The best part is watching him polish the fingerprints off the fender at the end.

Tech note: Brother Mark moved the old 8mm movies to VHS tapes. I used an ION Audio VCR 2 PC USB VHS Video to Computer Converter to copy them to a digital file. They’ve lost something in all the gyrations (and they weren’t all that great to begin with), but they still bring back a lot of memories for me.

Bikes were part of our life

By the summer, he was riding his bike to ball games. (After pumping up the front tire.)

Christmas at The Steinhoffs

Christmas was always a big deal at our house, as the 1966 photo above shows. The Christmas tree was always set up in the basement recreation room, as they were called in those days.

When we boys got up, Dad and Mother (mostly Dad) would torture us by making us wait until everybody got ready to go downstairs. Grandmother, who moved slowly because of arthritis, was always the first to go down.

When I got into high school, and became the official photographic historian, I was given the go-ahead to go next.

Christmas 1969

I had been doing some photo books for class projects at Ohio University, so Lila and I decided to put together one of our first Christmas as married folks in 1969. Here’s what it looked like.

Each person generally got one big “special” present. They weren’t always under the tree. In fact, as we got older, Christmas morning turned out to be more like a scavenger hunt as we tracked down clues all over the house. Dad and Mother (mostly Dad) took great pleasure in watching us scurry.

Mother got a skillet

Mother would almost always get at least one utilitarian present. It might be a skillet like this, or a vacuum cleaner or a clothes dryer.

Then she’d get a “fun” gift

It might be a series of cards with clues as to what she should buy with the money enclosed or it might be an actual gift.

Boys got lots of small gifts

Dad loved to buy things. I think he started shopping for next Christmas on Dec. 26. We never did figure out were he squirreled away all the loot. In fact, sometimes, he’d forget what all he HAD bought. At the end of opening orgy, he’d look around, then disappear for a few minutes, returning with yet another box or two that he recognized were missing.

Grandmother liked “smell-good” stuff

She’d get cosmetics, books, scarfs and knick-knacks.

Dad lived for Christmas

He loved to watch us tearing into the packages.

We were too busy to see this

We kids were too busy ripping paper to watch the interplay between our parents. I don’t think I paid much attention to them until I shot this book.

Dad got harder to buy for

My junior or senior year in high school, Dad decided to quit smoking on New Year’s Eve without telling any of us. We didn’t know why he had gotten cranky for several weeks. He finally said that he threw all his cigarettes in the fireplace at the end of the year, but didn’t want to say anything until he was sure he had kicked the habit.

That complicated our gift-giving, though. That ruled out pipes, tobacco, pipe stands, lighters and other smoking accessories.

Taking inventory

Once we had everything unwrapped, it was time to concentrate on that “special” gift. David must have gotten a turntable this year. I remember some of my big presents being a Hallicrafters S-38E shortwave radio (Son Matt has it now), a Daisy pump action BB gun, an Argus Autronic 35 (my first 35mm camera) and, a few years later, a Pentax camera.

They proclaimed it a success

When it was all over, it’s obvious that they rated our morning a success.

Biggest trash day of the year

I read somewhere that the day after Christmas is the biggest trash day of the year. When I see all of the debris left over in 1966, I can believe it.

I should feel guilty about all of the stuff we got, but Grandson Malcolm is playing with some of the toys and Mother’s attic has a lot left for the next one.

I’m glad Lila and I put this together. It brings back a lot of good memories.