Thursday, January 1, 2015

January 1, 2015: Why Not Start at the Beginning?

Having completed the "Pic-a-Day" personal challenge in 2014, I thought I needed to actually step-up my game in some form for 2015.  I've settled on the "Essay of the Week."  I've been pretty slack on writing anything for years now, so it's time to force myself to get back at it.  But where to start?  Obvious answer, at the beginning.

The less than perfect photo you see here is my oldest surviving negative.  I have no exact date, but I'm guessing it is around 1966.  It was taken at the Northern Pacific "D-street" roundhouse in Tacoma with my first camera, a Kodak Brownie Starlite.  For those who remember, these cameras were pretty much all plastic and used 127 roll film.  I would have been 13 years old at the time.

Back then, I would wander the yards at Tacoma.  They were within walking distance of our house, and Mom and the Old Man had no issue with me just going down there by myself for the afternoon.  On their part, the railroaders didn't really care if some kid showed up and took pictures here, there and everywhere.  It was such a different time.  A much better time.

And so, this negative survives as a visual testament to those times.  The shop worker is a man named "Slim" Rasmussen who would be destined to become the mayor of Tacoma.  We see him going about his daily work, in this instance, pumping crank case oil into on old NP f-unit.

Photographs are a funny thing.  Were I to take a picture today that turned out this grainy, under exposed and lacking of detail, I'd be vastly disappointed.  Given nearly 50 years of age, suddenly this less than perfect image becomes one I treasure.


James Berg said...

Great story Martin. And your photography, even at a young age, is top notch. Thanks for the photo and story. Jim

Kevin said...

Professional composition at age 13 is unique in itself.