From photographs and slides to digital, preservation efforts often past memories to be technologically updated, providing opportunities for different views.
Although I’ve flipped through photos in scrapbooks and albums numerous times before, but television viewing afforded the possibly for a room full of people to view the same photograph at the same time. And the large screen with apt-era background music made it seem like a movie of my life.
Pictures capture a moment in time with different meanings for all who view. My children, nieces and nephews mercilessly heckled the muttonchop sideburns, bellbottom and plaid pants, clunky platform shoes, and revealing halter tops amid other clothing and hairstyle choices of the day, which although stylish then ring comical in today’s mirror.
But as I watch each picture go by, I see the pair of white knee-high gogo boots that I begged my mother to buy me. The denim purse I bought myself with my baby-sitting savings. And the painful rollers worn overnight to achieve the curls in my very flat hair for my wedding do.
Each pixel evokes different memories behind the camera in the time before and after the shutter opened and closed. The baby picture of my sister with her dress turned back to front, since right before the photographer clicked, she spit up all over the front of her dress. Or the joyous picture of family fun on Disney’s Splash Mountain a split-second before we were all drenched to the bone from a waterfall drop tsunami.
Sometimes feelings frozen in celluloid are a stark reminder of the tenure of an exact instance of time. The sullen teenage scowl which resulted from teasing for a refusal to have my face painted like a clown at the Ringling Brothers museum. I was very aware of my oily skin and didn’t want the greasepaint to clog my pores and give me pimples. Or a distant and uncooperative frown portrayed in a Hawaiian vacation photo from terribly missing my Navy boyfriend who was at home on leave while I was forced to be a world away.
Remembrances of the ridiculous kitschy tourist traps my father never seemed to miss are encapsulated for posterity. The secretive Ft. Hood, which unknown to most people lies underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, the mermaids at Wiki Wachee, and the sarsaparillas at the OK Corral café were severely mocked back then, but now offer more nostalgic perspectives with time and age.
Regardless of how many technological evolutions these pictures will endure in the future, they remain echoes in time preserved for the next generation and those who follow to glimpse into past moments and draw their own conclusions about the time and place.