Up on the shelf inside the closet is a collection of old shoe boxes. One rainy day I decided to get them down and take a look. The grainy photographs were immediately recognizable as my family in days gone by. The photos were in black and white and based upon all of the action captured, life was simple with clear definitions of right and wrong. Observing the pictures it was evident our family subscribed to two major themes——-having a good time and eating. We were a happy family that bonded together.
Passing from one picture to the next I could see the pilgrimage of time and, in retrospect, see what was happening in the lives of the individuals in the pictures. In the oldest of the pictures my Dad, a big handsome man, was front and center. However, as I continued you would see him sitting in a chair with a sad look upon his face. In his 40’s he had a bout with cancer and it took a toll on his disposition which could be readily seen from the collection of pictures. Mom, the matriarch of the clan, who held veto power on every decision but seldom used it, was the queen bee. A flashing smile and a “don’t you take my picture” could be readily interpreted. In those days, I can remember having to send the ‘roll’ of film away and wait patiently for the return of the pictures, which always brought a round of laughter at the next family gathering.
Moving into the second shoe box brought a change in time with brothers and sister married and small children in abundance. Dotted throughout the box were Polaroid pictures with questionable color quality. There I was in my white coat and pink carnation. Another snapshot had a dashing cheerleader grab me as I exited the basketball court. (Did we really wear those short basketball shorts?) The photos were like a Shakespearean play with actors and actresses entering and exiting the production. Time and people were easily identified and memories played like rain upon a roof.
All the world’s a stage, and the men and women
merely players: they have their exits and their
entrances, and one man in his time plays many
parts, his acts being seven ages
Sitting on the floor going through those old shoeboxes was both joyful and painful. I had immediately uncovered part of my story. To touch some of the pictures, to view some of the events and see some of the people was really hard. But I was also reminded of ‘new beginnings’, people and events, and the time in my life when I was forced to turn loose of those special moments and people and move on.
After three hours with both tears and laughter while humming the tune “those were the days,” I eased the shoe boxes back upon the shelf. There will be no more entrees into their story. Today, pictures come as readily as a push of a button with instant feedback quickly stored in something called ICloud. But for this old man I enjoyed the shoeboxes and the memories and people they contained.
Do you have a shoebox?