Sunday, October 26, 2008

Back in the Day

I went high school in Tacoma, Washington during hte late 60's and early 70's. No rural, small classes where you knew everyone, FFA, 4-H clubbing for me. At Lincoln High there were over 650 kids in my class alone. We all found our group of 15-20 buddies, had nodding acquaintances with maybe 50 more and beyond that you had no clue who the rest of those kids were.

In my senior year, I began taking my camera to school everyday. That actually took a little effort considering my camera was an old Yashica twin lens box camera, but she took good photos. Most of the shots were of girls in short skirts and hot pants, and my buddies just being, well, my buddies. Most of the shots went no further than a click of the shutter release and a session developing the film. Very few of the resulting negatives were ever printed.

Stuffed into sleeves those old negatives went long forgotten. I'd stumble across a strip or two now and again when searching for another shot, but they would quickly become buried in my ever increasing, totally uncatalogued landslide of railroad and farm images. And then I bought a scanner....

I've rediscovered these old images. Photos that have never seen the light of day have been brought to life through the wonder of the digital world. More than once a negative is scanned, the image pops up on this very screen, I lean forward for a closer look and then utter a "well I'll be damned."

But photos are meant to be shared, are they not? And, armed with these old images, I've been slowly, very slowly, tracking down some whose faces you see below. It's been fun. These days all the old high school insecurities, the cliques, everything that made high school a traumatic experience for us all have long since faded. These days, all who I've contacted are glad to know we are still alive.

So here's a quick look at us...back in the day.

(Photographer's self portrait)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Defiance with Dignity

While traveling a Montana back road I spotted this one lone railroad telegraph pole. There was a time in the not so distant past these poles were as much a part of the railroad infrastructure as the ties and rails themselves. Tall, tight grained poles with their bottoms treated with creosote lined the right of ways. On their stretched out arms were glass insulators all of which supported the multiple wires required to keep a railroad running. Miles of poles and wires connected the smallest station in the middle of nowhere to the largest metropolis mountain ranges away. There was a degree of dignity associated with those poles and wire. They were as important to a railroad as the trains themselves.

Like so much of what was a part of past operations, modern systems of communications and train control have taken away the need for the pole lines. The majority of the poles have been chopped down, the miles and miles of copper wire long since salvaged. Even the string line of small town stations, once linked by those wires have long ago vanished from the landscape. And yet, out in the nothingness of Montana stands this one solitary pole.

Still strong and straight, its arms outstretched true to form I saw the dignity that pole once had was still there. But there was something else as well. With that dignity I saw a hint of defiance. Where all others had fallen, this one pole, somehow, someway has defied the onslaught of the modern world and remains in place along the old Northern Pacific mainline.

There is a degree of dignity in that pole's defiance. Defiance with dignity..maybe the world has stripped the pole of its original purpose, but it has not taken its dignity.

Our dignity...maybe like that pole, it's one of the few things we still can control. Maybe we too should against all odds try and defiantly hold to our own sense of dignity.