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A Photo Memoir (better entitled My Photo Memoir)

March 31, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

The last few years I've been thinking about writing a memoir.  Mostly because I don't want to forget the past and I want a story from my perspective that shares my life.


A couple of years ago, I started reading all sorts of memoirs to get ideas on how to craft such a story and to make it interesting to others besides myself.  I started downloading all sorts of books that had memoirs in their titles or in their descriptions.  A couple of examples from this background reading stood out to me.  One, in particular, involves photos.

Ever since I was a kid I was intrigued by the power of photos.  I can remember going to my Aunt's house and going through the drug store photo albums that she would carry around in her purse.  Today's equivalent of showing photos on your phone.  I would pour over these photos again and again.  I would ask her who the people were and the stories behind them.  That is how I got to know the relatives and family friends who lived in other places.  And the interesting stories about their lives and how their lives intertwined with my Aunt, my Grandparents, and my family.

One of the memoirs that I read during this time was the photo memoir by Sally Mann.  I was reminded about this earlier today because she has a new show opening and there was mention of her book, Still Life, in the description of her show.  I thought her approach of mixing photos and narrative was especially interesting and caused me to think about a similar approach, but done in my own way with my own story.

Since that time I've written many chapters to my memoir and discovered many cool photos.  Some of the photos were found at my Dad's house.  Some of the photos were taken at my Dad's house and made me recollect a story from my childhood.  One such story is suggested by this lone bicycle, still in the safety of my Dad's basement that I completely forgotten about but rode extensive 60 years ago.


The picture isn't much.  But the prettiness or the composition of the photograph isn't the point....it's the memories and the stories that it inspires in me.


This bike had a hard time.  It was my first bike and I rode it everywhere.  

In the beginning, I could only ride it to the corner, which is really only one house away.  I would sit for a long time on my bike and longingly look across the street at the playground that was in very much demand over the summer months.  One of the leaders saw my daily ritual and came over to my house to invite me to come to the park.  My Mom reluctantly agreed.  So, this leader would come over and pick me up in the morning and take me home at lunchtime and at the end of the day for a while.  Until I got the hang of crossing the street and coming over to the park by myself.

This was a freeing experience.  A whole new world opened up to me once I joined many others at the park and started becoming engaged in the games that went on there.  I changed my life.  I learned how to play, how to win at games, how to get picked on a softball teams, how to make craft projects, how to get along with others, how to get my way, and how to play all sorts of sports.  It opened up a big, big world of interactive fun.  Later, when I was in college, I worked at that same park as a playground leader for 2 summers.  I tried to return to other kids the advantages that Miss Melanie gave to me those long years ago.  I went to kids houses and invited them to the park.  I told parents about a field trip to the Brewer Game and told them I would take special care of their son and daughter.  All kindnesses to repay Miss Melanie when I was very young.


And that trike continued to be a source of transportation.  And a few other life lessons.  Like the time that I put it behind the car and it got very seriously injured.  You can see what happened to the seat in the picture.  The mangled front tire was replaced.  And I learned to never, ever put anything behind a parked car....a lesson that I adhere to to this very day.


There are many stories that are started by looking at photos of the past.  Now, I just have to read through those stories, edit them, make sure that I match the picture and the story, and just plain publish them.....


Sounds like a great way to write a memoir to me.  And in my own style.  With my own story.




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