FATHER’S DAY THOUGHTS ABOUT PHOTOS

Although I have no living fathers to celebrate with, I have memories of two fathers and a grandfather. My kids are blessed with a living and attentive father, my ex-husband, who’s active in their lives.

In preparation for her Father’s Day gift, my daughter Heidi wanted to look at old photos of her childhood. We took out my old photo albums since there are photos I haven’t copied onto my computer. Looking at actual photos in all their various forms, some with the scalloped edges from the 1940s, brought bittersweet thoughts and old recollections I could share with her.

Baby Heidi & her Daddy

Baby Heidi & her Daddy

Since my dad was an amateur photographer,  a few photos in my collection were on the photo paper he had bought. A few were early results from efforts at getting the right focus. When we were stationed in Bavaria, Germany, after WWII, Dad took advantage of German technology and bought himself a top-of-the-line enlarger along with a Rolleiflex camera, which I still have.

When I grew older, my dad taught me a little about mixing the chemicals used to develop photos and taught me a little about setting up the timing on the enlarger. It was fun to see a photo from start to finish and I used what I had learned for a school project. Wherever we were stationed, the bathroom was used to process negatives. I can remember seeing rolls of black film negatives stretched out and hanging from the shower curtain rod. If we had a basement, there was always a darkroom with a red light where all the processing chemicals were kept and the various sizes of photo paper. I can still recall the sound of the timed clicks of the enlarger as it imprinted the negative picture onto the photo paper. And it was fun to place the photo paper with its image into the Microdol developer fluid and the stop bath as the image darkened. Oddly enough, I loved the smell of Microdol.

Heidi and I looked through the older albums that dated to my childhood and those related to life in Tripoli, Libya, and an album from my years at the College of William and Mary. There were some from early in my marriage and when my kids were very young. The style of album changed with the times. There were a few albums that required the photo collector to peel back the plastic and then place the photos on the sticky cardboard backing before letting the plastic lay over the photos. Some albums were a mix of years and events.

My ex and I divorced when Heidi was about twelve, and I think the difficulties of those years right afterward when she was a rebellious teenager dealing with a broken family blurred her memory of better days. Her relationship with her father, who has remarried, continues to get better as the years go by. Wanting to know more about the early years of her life and my marriage, she wondered if her dad and I had been in love, especially since she had seen photos of me looking annoyed!

I told her that her dad and I had been in love. Heidi and I looked through the albums for proof and found the perfect photo. It was taken at a friend’s place shortly before we were married in Mannheim, Germany.

Hans & Victoria - Mannheim, Germany 1965

Hans & Victoria – Mannheim, Germany 1965

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