Paul Anka and Kodak Moments
Do you remember the times of your life?
Kodak used that jingle from Paul Anka’s song “The Times of Your Life” in the 1970s to stir up strong emotions and sell cameras. One commercial featured a middle-aged couple moving from their home of many years as photo memories, overdone with a Sepia filter, came to mind. It worked. (For a while anyway; don’t hear much about Kodak these days.)
Both my mother and father grew up in South Texas during the depression in situations I would refer to as “dirt poor”. My father was the middle of five. Until he became a Future Farmer of America in high school and showed the Grand Champion steer three years in a row, there were very few photos of him. I have only seen a couple pictures of a cotton-headed, barefoot kid. Pretty sure he was walking and talking by the time of his first photo. My mother was the eldest of four. The home she grew up in was really two one-room buildings pushed together. It was obvious they had nothing, and yet her family took photographs like they were the Rockefellers! Her childhood and teen years were well documented on film. I always found it interesting that two families very similar by financial means were so different when it came to photographs. You know which side I lean toward.
When you are the youngest of four, as I am, you learn to accept that there is a disparity in the number of photographs taken of you. My brothers sometimes teased me that I was adopted because I was already a week old before I appeared in my first black-and-white Kodak moment. (My mother always said the first roll of film—which she had to mail off for developing—got lost and she was sent another family’s photos by mistake.) In my first photo album, I jump from one-week-old to three-and-a-half months—you may think the ‘in-between’ were perhaps blurry and she didn’t keep them; but, my mother saved EVERYTHING. My first photo album pretty much covers the first five years of my life while my older siblings were on volumes 3 or 4 by that age. But growing up in a time of three television channels and no electronic games, those photo albums provided much entertainment and helped ‘teach’ a little family history.
Each of our two sons had their first picture taken while they were still in the hospital. I think they were probably a day old and Jenni had also had a chance to recover. Because I evidently have more genes of my mother’s family, it was important to me to document their childhood. I worked months to build a scrapbook for each son, including not only photographs but also many mementos of their first year and what the world was like. Subsequent books did not get quite as much attention as the first, but there was still an effort to capture those wonderful memories. And yes, year for year, the eldest ended up with more photo books than his brother. It’s just the law of nature.
Recently it was a heart-warming moment to pull out the baby album of our youngest son and compare his photos to his own infant daughter and our first grandchild. Emma was born striking a Vogue pose for the camera! When someone says “there’s one for the Gram” it is not a reference to one of her grandmothers, but rather InstaGRAM. Her parents have the option to upload digital photo files to a multitude of companies who will print photo books for them. Wonder what it will be like for her one day!
… Good morning, yesterday
You wake up and time has slipped away
And suddenly it's hard to find
The memories you left behind
Remember, do you remember?
… Here comes the saddest part
The seasons are passing one by one
So gather moments while you may
Collect the dreams you dream today
Remember, will you remember
The times of your life?
(Times of Your Life, written by Bill Lane/Roger Nichols, sung by Paul Anka)
Those lyrics really tug at my heart and prompt me to capture the "times of Emma's life." Based on the number of photos I already have on my iPhone, little Emma could end up with a book for each month (or week) of her life!