Box or album? Either holds memories

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 1, 2015

I admire people who take the time and effort to compile up-to-date photo albums. I admit that I have failed miserably in that respect through the years. I have pictures of family, friends, and trips tucked away. Some are jammed in envelopes in drawers, others piled in shoeboxes, a goodly number slipped in under-bed boxes or cubbyholes here and there in various rooms in the house.

Getting those pictures in albums was one of the projects I planned to tackle when I retired. I imagined myself with plenty of time to sort, organize, and place those hundreds of photographs neatly in albums. Yet, I had never made the time. Just recently, I bought a sturdy 18-inch wide by 11-inch deep container for that purpose. Every time I come across any of those pictures I have in random places, I drop them into the box.

In trying to find room to move some furniture several days ago, I pulled two cardboard boxes out from under a bed. Many of my mother’s personal and business papers and miscellaneous items such as greeting cards and newspaper clippings filled the first box. The other held pictures, including several snapped during my elementary school years. As I shifted through them, out fell my fourth grade class picture. I was among the knobby-kneed girls in dresses and boys mostly clad in overalls who stood on the steps at our elementary school. I wondered how many I could name after all those years; then surprised myself by identifying almost everybody.

I wondered what paths their lives had taken. Where did they live? Whom did they marry? Were some of them still in our elementary school area? Did the school still operate?

Was it coincidental that last week I received an unexpected e-mail from the younger brother of one of those classmates? I had learned years ago that he was an associate editor of a state denominational newspaper. During the 2014 Christian Writers Conference in Tuscaloosa, I met a writer from that newspaper and inquired about him. I asked her to tell him hello for me and gave her my e-mail address to pass along to him. Just a few days ago, she discovered the e-mail she sent him with my information came back. When her e-mail reached him, he contacted me.

His mention of some familiar places in the elementary school area triggered memories. Early one beautiful spring morning as our bus traveled the curving, dusty road toward school, we had engine trouble. It was fun strolling the rest of the way to school with an excuse for lateness. Another day at recess several girl friends and I pulled climbing roses from the fence to make garlands for our hair.

We had school pictures made that day. I hope to put the tacky picture with roses and greenery spread across my head (which my mother scolded me about) in place among those in a newly completed photo album.


Nina Keenam is a former newspaper reporter. Her column appears on Saturdays.