Nowadays, of course, it’s all so easy. You raise your phone and take a picture. The result is a digital masterpiece which you immediately file into the proper folder. What’s that? Oh, you’re GOING to set up your folders and sort your kitty pictures from the snow pictures from those pictures your friends took of you after that fifteenth glass of egg nog at the Christmas party.
Of course you are, my friend. Of course you are. Just the way your parents sat you all down every Saturday evening in your youth so you could pull out the shoeboxes of family pictures and have a funfilled evening pasting them in…now you tell one.
Yes, it’s true. A lot of folks have shoeboxes of family photos. Not to mention the scrapbooks with bulging covers: bulging not because the books have been filled, but because generations have tucked all those envelopes of family snapshots inside, planning to organize, arrange, and caption them one cold, snowy day.
How many photo albums did you work on, during that first full week of January, when the temperature dropped below any level seen in 25 years, and we had more snow in one day than we had in most of January last year? Yup. Thought so.
Now, I get in a lot of books with the answer: throw it all away. If you’re never going to sort, classify, and deal with your memories, they’re useless. Useless is ONE of the words I use to describe these books.
I have a more unusual box, myself. It is filled with the snapshots and family pictures that I find in books donated to the Book Fair. These have been saved for several reasons. First, there is a chance that somebody will remember them, and call to see if I threw away the pictures from their family trip to Berwyn. Second, I am demented. Not everybody would have put that second, but this is my blog.
Third, I have always cherished a modest little money-making project. See, we also get a lot of empty photo albums and scrapbooks donated to the fair. A bunch of these are those wretched “Magic Page” books, where you put your item on the page, put the plastic over it, and magically weld it to the page. This does a great deal of long-range damage but look on the bright side. By that time you’ll be dead.
The thing is that I wonder if one couldn’t turn photo albums into an art form. Over here I have a few hundred pictures without captions or labels, except for a date the drugstore put in the margin. And over here I have a bunch of empty albums. Let us assume that somewhere else are glue and blank labels and a pen.
It works on the same principle as scrapbooking, only one is not fettered by the demands of reality, or even of knowing who’s in these old pictures. I’ll just start at one end and work my way through, creating a new and marketable family album with pages devoted to
“Last Pic of Aunt Booney Before the Morals Charges”
“Uncle Ryan Was Probably Already Plotting How to Dispose of the Body”
“You’d Never Guess What he Did To Her Just After We Took the Picture”
“This is the Tree Where Henry Hid the Bottles”
“We Could Never Get a Picture of Lois Except When She’d Had a Few”
“I’m the Only One in this Picture with Underwear On.”
I could do several, not limiting myself to “Family Album”. The next volume could be “College Days”, or “Our Vacation”, or even, for use with the scariest pictures, “Memorable Book Fair Characters”. Any one of these books would make a mint. (The whole set might make a Butterfinger and two Heath Bars.)