Saturday, January 12, 2008
From Then to Now
I have two boxes of photos here in the room where my laptop usually sits. One box is full of pictures of actual events that I remember and was, to some extent or another, involved in – the other box is full of memories of another man – that man was my father. Every now and again I pull the box down, rummage and wonder about the images I see there. I have reached a point in my life where there is no one left to answer my questions as to whom the people in the photos may be or rather, who the people were.
I can hear my father there – at least a remembrance of things said. With this box of pictures sometimes I can make a match between what Dad told me and a photo of the genuine article. I remember hearing about his Indian Motorcycle – now I’ve seen it. The Hot Dog stand that the family ran at the Wildwood boardwalk – seen it. Duke, Dad’s dog – plain as day. The Acropolis and sailors on shore leave now have pictures to match their stories. Then there are the ones that I’ll never know like the inspiration for the freshly inked tattoo of a schooner under full sail on my Dad’s left bicep, or the woman he is passionately kissing on and under the boardwalk who is not my mother (although it could be his first wife). The pictures look as if Marlon Brando came to Dad to research his look for “The Wild One” – a film that came out in 1953 and these photos are taken a year or two before that release date. Bit of a Greaser Dad was.
Then there are the cards and the postcards. Dad was in the navy and served on the U.S.S. Columbus CA-74. I know this because I have a Christmas card that was in the box too. It’s to my grandmother. There is a green drawing of the vessel just above center and a red anchor line around the boarder. The inside of the card reads, “This ain’t much of a card is it – Reckon it says just about what an expensive one does though. Tell Nanny Merry Christmas for me. Can’t get any better cards. I’ll get better ones for you when I get back.” I have no idea who “Nanny” is. Dad never spoke of his grandparents and since it is hand written the name could also be either Mary or Danny depending on how one reads the script. Another example is a postcard sent from Barcelona Spain with a picture of the city on the front and on the back, “Howdy Mom – the Admiral (6th fleet) leaves at 1100 today. Maybe we’ll be getting underway for Tangiers North Africa tomorrow. The New Port News is tied up alongside us now. Sure is a clean looking ship – ours is better though.”
I called in Chick 1.0 (my 15 year-old daughter) and showed her the contents of the box. “See this guy?” I asked showing her the picture of the guy with the wavy slicked back black hair, white ¼ sleeve tee shirt and new tattoo passionately kissing some woman who is not her grandmother.
“He’s a Greaser. A pimp of the past.” She said.
“He’s your grandfather.”
We both giggled and gleefully went through the rest of the box for the next hour of so. I told her all I could which wasn’t too much. The box itself is now like a postcard. The stamps are from ports of call around the world, the memories are not mine but there is a familiarity to them all the same.
The address reads, “from then to now”.