Prized Brownie captured memories

Published 12:34 am Saturday, July 22, 2017

I’ve never been an organized person. I always said that when I retired I was going to pull out all the photos I have accumulated in shoeboxes, large envelopes, and other containers and put them in photo albums. Well, retirement happened a long time ago and unfortunately, I have not gotten around to that task.

I found one of the envelopes the other day and dumped the contents out on a table. The first thing I picked up was a snapshot of my two favorite cousins, Harold and Betty Joyce. They were from opposite sides of my family. Betty Joyce, three weeks my senior, was the daughter of my daddy’s sister. Harold was my mother’s nephew. He was almost six years younger than I was.

Betty Joyce often accompanied my parents and me on our annual summer visit with Harold and his parents in Panama City, Fla. She and Harold claimed “cousin-ship.” The picture I held in my hand was snapped with my prized little Brownie camera. They stood on a little footbridge at the edge of a lake near Harold’s house. Each of them held one of the little rat terrier dogs I grew up with. Harold’s faithful dog Pee Wee stood beside him. I remember how excited I was when I dropped off the film at a drugstore within walking distance of Harold’s house. I couldn’t wait to pick those pictures up a few days later.

Harold, Betty Joyce and I often took walks during those lazy, carefree summers. We skipped along the sidewalks, gazed at cattails near the bay, and occasionally took another route home to cross a bridge at what we called the channel. Sometimes, accompanied by an adult, we played in the sand and waded in the water at the channel. Pee Wee frolicked on the beach with us.

During our visits, Harold’s daddy enjoyed cooking out, arising in the wee hours of the morning to fire up his barbeque pit, put on the meat and slather it periodically with his own secret recipe sauce. During our noon gathering, he proudly piled our plates high with his delicious barbecue.

The years flew by and Harold, Betty Joyce, and I grew up and had families of our own. I traveled with my husband during his military career. Betty taught in Florida and returned to Alabama to live in Huntsville in retirement. Harold had a successful career as a carpenter and contractor in Panama City. I kept in touch with both of them. They saw each other again at my daddy’s funeral in 1974 and my mother’s in 2005. By the time my mother died, both of them were battling cancer. Both have passed away.

Harold wrote poetry during his final years. Sometimes when I read his poems, I can’t hold back tears. Other times, they are comforting. I still miss both of them. As I held the photo of them on the bridge, I wished I could recapture that happy time.



Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.