Memories and Photographs


I have always been intrigued by the relationship between my memories and the photographs I have frequently seen. Immersing myself in the family history for the last four years, I certainly remember much I had forgotten. I hope everyone finds my photo blog equally helpful.

But do I remember the actual event or do I remember the slides of the event? Do I remember clearly what was never photographed? Unquestionably, discussing the picture slides with the whole family did elicit everyone’s memories, which then became incorporated into individual memories. I fondly remember countless slide shows with mom and dad, Grandma Nolan, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters-in-law, and nephews and nieces. There was always screams of laugher and frequent admonitions to the younger Koches to stop standing between the projector and the screen. I recall Mom’s telling me Richard and Kathy were watching the family slides. I suspected correctly that she would call back a few hours later to announce their engagement. I encouraged Andy to watch the family slides on his second visit to New York in 1996:) I tend to gauge the seriousness of potential family mates by how immersed they were in the family photos.

Yet the pictures so distort the reality of our everyday life. We got a few toys at Christmas, but we never played with them. We went away on vacation the entire summer. In the summer we lived in the water, either in the pool or at the beach; in the winter there was always abundant snow. We were always outside, never inside. We never played ping pong or knock hockey. We never played board games that ended with some poor sport upsetting the board once his loss became inevitable. (I was always a good sport because I was usually winning.)

But much of our outside play is neglected. We never played badmitten; we never played baseball; we never went ice skating; we never had a sled; we never rode a bicycle. My brothers did play basketball in the driveway unless the next door neighbor was complaining to the cops about evening play. Richard never ran cross country. Several brothers were photographed in football regalia, but there was no proof the Michael actually played on his high school team. Michael’s broken leg is honored, but not Peter’s broken arm. Richard’s missing tooth is noted.

We were very religious; we spent an inordinate amount of time receiving our communion and being confirmed. However, we never went to church at other times. I never wore glasses; that is an outstanding accomplishment given that I got my glasses at 10 and my contact lenses at 19.

We only graduated from school; we never attended it. Except for a picture of Richard’s graduating from St. Martha’s, there are no pictures of our schools. You would never realize we attended three different high schools and three different grammar schools. According to the pictures, we never studied, never read a book, never went to the library, never participated in any after school activity. Richard was a drummer; I was a baton twirler. Peter started playing the accordion at his second wedding. Our family pets are very neglected. I gave up trying to figure out how many cats we had and what they looked like. Familes who call their cats “cat” don’t waste film on them.

Relationships are neglected. Mom and Dad never kissed one another after their wedding or hugged us after babyhood. During our childhood we always wore pajamas for photographs. Dad was rarely there because he was always behind the camera. Mom was never pregnant or nursing, an accomplishment even more amazing than my never wearing glasses. No one was ever filthy, battered, bloody. Anne was only my friend during school graduations. Bob Logan seems to have been Richard’s and Stephen’s only friend. Jackie only appears once while she and Peter were in high school. The siblings related to each other by lining up in size order.

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About maryjograves

Children are my passion. I have 4 daughters, 5 grandkids under 5 with another on the way, 5 younger brothers, 11 nieces and nephews, 8 great nieces and nephews. I advocate a revolution for a child friendly US. I have been an editor, public librarian, social worker, and internet educator. Tweet @RedstockingGran @ChildrensWings
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