I haven’t watched any films in the past week or so because I’ve been busy scanning old family photos. It’s been on my to-do list forever (or would be if I had one). A lot of the photos are faded and discolored (my baby pictures are getting close to 50 years old! *yikes*) and I want to preserve them before they get worse. I rant on about neglected Hindi cinema history so I’d best not neglect my own! Of course it may not be of much interest to most of you (although there is something strangely compelling about family albums, isn’t there?) so forgive me for this small digression (I won’t be offended if you skip it altogether).
One of the nice things about a lot of these pictures is that my mother sent them off to my grandparents, and wrote notes on the back so they would know what they were looking at. I grew up in Rhodesia (which is Zimbabwe nowadays, and a sad sad place) because my parents were teachers working for the United Methodist Mission Board. My grandparents lived in the US and only saw us when we came every few years on furlough. Travel was very expensive and time-consuming back then! (We always flew BOAC, and I had a little flight attendant pin, and a captain’s log and everything! No clue where all that is now, but probably Mom threw it away. She always loves to throw things away.)
She also has a certain gift with words on occasion, so I’m sharing her commentary where applicable.
(Actually, my dad—a man of far fewer words than my mom—wrote on the back of this one: “Greta and Gloria.”)
My dad is ill now, in the middle stages of dementia, and it’s hard to see a man who was always reading, studying, teaching—who knew everything it seemed—struggling to find words, or meaning, or his walker (he refuses to get back in the wheelchair!). This photo, and the note on the back, brought tears to my eyes.
I’m never sure which one is happiest.
The one below was taken when I was baptized by Bishop Dodge (holding me). I crack up every time I see it at how completely dead asleep and limp I am. It may have been the first time I fell asleep in church, but it certainly was not the last.
Here I think I look like some sort of little gangster-in-the-making. If there were a bubble above my huge bald pate it would say “Why, I oughta!…”
Our favorite stroller to survey the world from and those eyes miss very little.
The halcyon years of being the center of the universe didn’t last long. Here I am being lulled into a false sense of having any say in anything having to do with my little brother Dave being born.
My mother had clearly not started nagging me to keep my legs together yet.
Gotta admit, though, the little guy was cute.
Taken on our front porch. Before puppy got sick. Greta gets that look on her face now when she sees the camera. David just enjoys life.
I’m guessing the puppy didn’t make it (I’m also betting it was already sick, judging from the way it let me plop it face down on my lap). Many of our childhood pets didn’t get very old. Hey—we lived in the African wilderness!
Who wants expensive toys? Just give us the grocery box!
We played with cardboard boxes for years. When we couldn’t both fit in the same one any more we made trains and my sister, after she arrived, was always the caboose.
One of our favorite pastimes. Greta also likes to draw circles and more circles. David would just as soon color the walls.
(Look at my blog head above. Scary, na?)
1964. Mommy’s little helpers (?) In our kitchen. A sink for each one.
I love my mother’s question mark after “little helpers”…that is signature Mom. She could never quite understand why little toddler fingers didn’t do the job as well as her grown-up ones. The main thing I remember about this kitchen is that it was painted bright turquoise. BRIGHT.
…This is our front lane. Needless to say – we filled in this hole with dirt after this. They looked like this all the time at Kitwe.
This was taken in Kitwe (Zambia).
My sister made her appearance in 1966. She makes her way onto these pages too, now that she lives close by and is ever willing to watch fillums with me.
Christmas morn 1966. Each kid had a sock. Marta already opened hers and the other two were busy. Then next was breakfast. The dress I have on was one I had just made. This is so typical of David & Greta sitting together. Usually they are talking too.
So sweet! We still talk a lot when we get together. And laugh even more.
Dave grew up to be a genius as well as one of the kindest, funniest, most generous people I know. Here he is in this weekend’s New York Times Sunday edition: For Virtual Racers, A League Of Their Own (about his auto-racing simulation). The quote in the article that sums him up the best is when he talks about improvements he would like to make to the site:
“We’d like to add the ability to cook your clutch,” Mr. Kaemmer said, “or break some gears.”
That’s my bro!
I believe he was the instigator of this activity as well:
Mom and Dad were pretty mad when we dug this hole in our drive, right where guests were supposed to park (note the presence of the cardboard box). One of them took a photo, though, before they made us fill it back in.
So there you have it: the childhood of the Memsaab, replete with a lot of mud and dirt, short-lived pets, bad haircuts, cardboard boxes and usurping siblings.