Mom has been sorting through her pictures for years now, organizing them into albums for each of us kids and albums on different subjects. She has so many printed pictures because she has lived so many years when printed pictures were the only option – there were no digital cameras. .
My first camera was a Brownie box camera. There were little, square lenses that you could take out on the top. In fact, you could take the whole camera apart and put it back together again. It was that simple. You bought rolls of film with only 8 frames on them, put them in the camera and turned a knob to roll them into place. If you were lucky you got black and white photos several weeks later when you finished the film and sent it away to be developed. If you weren’t lucky you got underexposures, over exposures, pictures with no subject in them, pictures of your fingers over the lens, etc… There were so many things that could go wrong, and commonly did. This was the only way to preserve memories of important times, but it resulted in lots of terrible pictures.
Color film came along but was much more expensive. Then cameras improved and film had 24 and 36 frames so we took more pictures. Still, there was no way to know if the picture was good until after it was developed and printed. And it still had to be sent to a developer for the prints (expensive) because few people knew how to process their own films. Now we have digital photos and don’t know how we ever managed without them. We only print the best, for special reasons, and store the rest on disks or hard drives.
Mom’s photo albums show this history of pictures, from the small black and whites to the present near-perfect digitals. In addition to the albums she has made picture boards of her favorite family pics. She is not afraid to crop them, trim them up with decorative edges, and paste them on a cardboard. Her philosophy – get them out where people will look at them more often. If they sit in a box or a drawer forever, no one enjoys them and they are forgotten.
The picture boards hang in the guest room of her house. Everyone loves to look at them and see how many times they can find themselves. We see how we all have changed over the years with growth spurts, changes in hairstyles, added weight, and more recently, the wrinkles. It’s not fancy, or expensive. There are no real frames or glass (which would be alright too) and it doesn’t seem to matter. We all love looking at pictures of our crazy, lovable extended family.
We had a single milk cow. For some reason which I do not recall, we named her Peanut. This was the time in my family history that my dad was almost finished with farming, but it was still nice to have a cow to provide milk for the family. She was a Holstein and a pretty good milk producer. One cow is not enough to justify having a milking machine so my brothers milked her by hand morning and evening. I might have done it a few times too but I was now away at college so I didn’t know Peanut very well.
There was enough milk that we also provided some to neighbors, which required that it be pasteurized for safety. The milk was heated in a metal pasteurizer, a gallon or two at a time, in our kitchen. When it reached the right temperature it would shut itself off and we would cool it as quickly as possible. Sometime our refrigerator would be so full of glass one-gallon jars of milk that there was little room for anything else. As the milk sat in the fridg, the cream would rise to the top and we would skim it off and make butter. Peanut butter. There was also plenty for making ice cream, and just for drinking. We were known as the farm where you could get Peanut milk.
There is something good about the memory of leaning up against a big,warm animal and hearing the rhythmic sound of that stream of milk filling the pail. There’s a good dose of nostalgia in remembering the fun it was to try to squirt the cats when they came running by. It was good to live on the farm… just sayin’.