Our parents have always done a phenomenal job of taking photos and putting them into scrapbooks. Growing up we were always drawn to pictures of ourselves and less interested in the black and white/torn and tattered books. However, now we are thirsty to dig deeper into our parents history and get the story behind some of their pictures. We asked our dad to share some pictures and his thoughts are more priceless than we ever imagined.
These memories are amazing because he has woven in awesome pieces of Americana into every post. Anyone who likes history will also find his perspective fascinating.
This snapshot must have been taken when I was about four years old, but it’s what’s not in the picture that’s most intriguing to me. It was less than a month ago that I took this snapshot out of the scrapbook my mother had made and saw for the first time a note she’d written on the back. The note said, “This was the Christmas you got the little green horse.” She was referring to a small Christmas tree ornament that was a rocking horse made of flimsy green cardboard. That little cardboard rocking horse was one of the earliest and most treasured objects I remember from my childhood. We kept it over all these decades, though it disappeared a few years ago (we would never have thrown it away, so it must still be around).
The odd, lingering feelings I still have about that ornament remind me a bit of the beginning of the Orson Welles’ film Citizen Kane. Many critics consider Citizen Kane the greatest film ever made, in part because of the mystery that begins in the film’s first scene. It shows a dying man uttering his final word, “Rosebud.” It turns out that man – Citizen Kane – was wealthy and powerful beyond belief, and it was puzzling that no one knew what his last utterance referred to. The film’s storyline represents a journalist’s unsuccessful search for the meaning of “Rosebud.” The mystery is answered, though, during the film’s last scenes when the camera pans over seemingly endless mountains of stuff accumulated by Kane over his lifetime sitting unused in a warehouse. The camera then zooms in on one pile in particular and then on one object in the pile: an old battered sled that has the name Rosebud painted on it. It was one of Kane’s childhood toys.
I do think that many of us have lasting emotional attachments to some of our childhood possessions. One of my other special possessions is a teddy bear named Bongo that Amy wrote about on July 4th in an entry called “Bongo to Bubba.” That was after I passed Bongo onto grandson Ford, and it prompted Amy to reflect on some of her own most special possessions – just as looking at my old scrapbook snapshots brings back fond memories to me. In another picture, for example, I’m a cowboy…but that’s a story for another day
On a historical note, the character of Citizen Kane was based partly on the life of the American publisher William Randolph Hearst. Hearst accumulated vast and largely unused storehouses of valuable objects and works of art himself, many of which were never even unpacked. A small fraction of them can be seen at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California.