I've been away for over a month, though most of the time was spent at home. Some of the time was spent helping my dad find pieces of memories. I will explain after submitting the following photo for Sepia Saturday with the theme title "From Here to There."
I'm going to do a small deconstruction of the photo in order to allow you to focus on the different activities taking place. It appears to perhaps be a plaza in front of a hotel.
A couple of fellas playing a game. The only reason I say this is because the fella in the foreground has something in his right hand that looks like the end of a stick or mallet.
Two woman parading; traveling from here to there on a nice sunny day. Perhaps it's a stroll around the plaza and then back to the hotel.
And the "hotel" porch appears to be a very busy place; a young girl on horseback stopping by. These days should we be sitting on the porch of some establishment and a horse walked up and stuck its nose into the middle of a conversation people would be flummoxed.
And a carriage of some sort parked next to the square.
So to keep with the theme we have walking, horseback riding, and riding in a carriage. It's an unusual photo in that it is of an active scene instead of people posed staring at the photographer. Now this is not saying that the four people in the plaza weren't in some way staged by the photographer, but it is unusual to find a shot of everyday life just going along.
Click on image to see it larger.
Perhaps for someone somewhere this photo would bring back memories of a place from their youth. Nothing is written on the back to indicate a location, nor is there any information about the photographer.
Which brings me to the past weeks of my life.
My dad and I went on a short trip here in Northern California in search of some of his youth. We know the ranch he grew up on has been subdivided many times over, but the house he lived in is still there as is the barn one of my great-grandfather's built. We made a trip to the ranch a few years ago with my cousin and his wife so they could experience a bit of the family history.
On this trip we headed to a beautiful valley where my dad used to spend time in the summer on his uncle's ranch. Much of the valley is part of the Yuki tribe's reservation. I remember visiting the valley in the mid-60s. At that time we drove right to the house my great aunt and uncle had lived in. My recollection is there were a lot of hornets flying around so we got back in the car and drove away. This time we could not find any traces of the ranch. So much has been built, including many new roads crisscrossing the valley. We drove around for awhile until dad finally said he simply couldn't find anything familiar. Understand that when he was there for summers it was in the 1930s. But as we drove down a road lined with poplar trees he suddenly said, "This reminds me of the road where Jock and I came to collect some colts." He remembers riding horseback across the valley with his cousin Jock to another ranch to retrieve some young colts to take back to his uncle's place. So though you can't go home again, you just might retain enough memories to bring back moments that let you experience home.
Also on this trip we visited the small town where he was born and lived the first few years of his life. The house he lived in is for sale. I checked the realtor's website and found photos of the interior. None of it looked the same to dad except for the large cast iron bathtub. But outside looks still very similar to how it has always looked, including many fences and porches my grandfather built.
If you live in the U.S. you might be acquainted with the publisher Arcadia Publishing. They do small local history books that feature vintage black and white photos from local people and historical societies. I purchased two for dad on the trip; one for the town where he was born and one for where he went to high school in the town near the ranch. It was very surprising to find him in his band uniform on the spine of the one book. It's a photo I had never seen. With luck I'll be able to get a copy for him.
Once home I ordered another Arcadia book about the valley where my grandparent's ranch was located. Inside is a photo of my grandparent's wedding on the ranch. Unfortunately they put the wrong names in the caption, but it made my dad smile to see his folks—along with many other relatives—as part of the history of the valley.
So we had a good trip to real locations and through time. But then upon our return home my dad was informed he is in kidney failure. Our world has been turned upside down. The future is uncertain and I'm stressing out over what I can do for him. Cooking has become very complicated. I now enter a grocery store and think it's just a bastion built to serve poison. As a nutritionist reminded me, "Only shop along the outer walls where the fresh products are sold. Avoid the aisles." So I walk around and feel overwhelmed about how truly pathetic our food system is in this country. I am lucky that I live in an area with a lot of agriculture so I can easily get access to fresh farm products. I struggle to make good tasting meals without using any salt. Some recipes are easy to change, but others are simply not to be made again. There will be no splurging once a month for a Papa Murphy's pizza. Those days are gone.
I've withdrawn from most contacts for several weeks as I try to adjust to the changes that are happening. I haven't returned phone calls or emails and I apologize. I simply have to find my rhythm. In some ways I cannot go home again because life as I'd been living it has changed. I am in the same location that I've been in for decades, but it's different now and I don't think beyond each day.
As the saying goes, you can't go home again to what was, but you can hold close the memories of the places and the people who once filled your life. If you're lucky they will stay with you forever. We are forever changing and creating memories. And when time gets too hard we can take a moment and remember what home used to be.
And finally I discover that the list of other vintage photography sites that took me years to compile is gone. I didn't delete it. It's just gone. It's been there on the left for years. I no longer have links to all the interesting places I liked to visit. I don't know how it happened or why. I can never get back that list. Just another complication thrown at me that I'm too tired to deal with. Maybe a missed a memo from Google would explain it. Who knows. It's gone. It's just a memory.