I'm not a frequent picture taker.  I don't have interesting stories to tell about the pictures I have taken.  I do not read photography magazines.  And I can not keep up when two camera enthusiasts are talking to each other.  However, I do have some photography memories.  When I grew up in the suburb of Needham, Massachusetts in the United States many years ago (50's & 60's) the neighbors on either side of us had live-in servants.  The doctor and his family on one side of us had a servant lady named Nettie.  The British Empire family on the other side of our house had a servant lady named Edith.  The two servant women would meet every day in the middle, in my mother's kitchen: to smoke cigarettes and to gossip and to laugh.  Three things not allowed in their master's homes.

 

I'm not a frequent picture taker.  I don't have interesting stories to tell about the pictures I have taken.  I do not read photography magazines.  And I can not keep up when two camera enthusiasts are talking to each other.  However, I do have some photography memories.  When I grew up in the suburb of Needham, Massachusetts in the United States many years ago (50's & 60's) the neighbors on either side of us had live-in servants.  The doctor and his family on one side of us had a servant lady named Nettie.  The British Empire family on the other side of our house had a servant lady named Edith.  The two servant women would meet every day in the middle, in my mother's kitchen: to smoke cigarettes and to gossip and to laugh.  Three things not allowed in their master's homes.

 

The British Empire family was the Brooks family.  Mr. and Mrs. Brooks had gotten married in England in 1919.  Mr. Brooks was thirty-six years old and his wife, Mrs. Brooks, was sixteen years old.  Edith, the servant, was fourteen years old.  Where did she come from?  Edith, at age fourteen, was given to Mrs. Brooks, aged sixteen, as a wedding gift.  Edith was a Scotish foundling with no rights.  She stayed with the family, who had four children, for life.  Probably the greatest wedding gift in history.

 

d2The British Empire family was the Brooks family.  Mr. and Mrs. Brooks had gotten married in England in 1919.  Mr. Brooks was thirty-six years old and his wife, Mrs. Brooks, was sixteen years old.  Edith, the servant, was fourteen years old.  Where did she come from?  Edith, at age fourteen, was given to Mrs. Brooks, aged sixteen, as a wedding gift.  Edith was a Scotish foundling with no rights.  She stayed with the family, who had four children, for life.  Probably the greatest wedding gift in history.

 

Edith had two hobbies, mountain climbing and photography.  Every year she would take a six week vacation to some mountains: Yellowstone, the Alps, Africa, etc. and every year she would return with hundreds of pictures.  She loved 35mm cameras and she preferred slides.  Peek in her small servant's room  and you could see a warehouse of boxes of slides, slide projectors, and projection screens.

 

Edith had two hobbies, mountain climbing and photography.  Every year she would take a six week vacation to some mountains: Yellowstone, the Alps, Africa, etc. and every year she would return with hundreds of pictures.  She loved 35mm cameras and she preferred slides.  Peek in her small servant's room  and you could see a warehouse of boxes of slides, slide projectors, and projection screens.

 

Every year after she returned from her annual vacation there would be a slide show in the Brooks house living room.  Her best friend Nettie, the live-in servant of the doctor's family two houses down was never invited.  Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, Mr. and Mrs. British Empire, did not think Nettie was the right sort of person to be in their house.  Anyway, I was a child and I remember wonderful big pictures on the screen of faraway places.  Not just record shots but beautifully composed, artfully presented images.  Edith was a skilled photographer.  Many close up pictures of mountain flowers.  A close-up picture of a small mountain flower is an exercise in art.  Projecting it onto a big screen in a dark room is an exercise in spectacle. 

I never became a picture taker myself but I never forgot the beauty and the fun of those slide shows.  To this day I can not get interested in anything other than slides shown on a projection screen.  Digital cameras?  Transferring pics (hate that word) to a computer?  Pictures in scrapbooks?  Just not me.  I believe that many years ago in that dark livingroom at the Brooks house I mainlined the best that photography can offer.  I would like to return to those wonderful slide shows where a woman who was treated like chattel showed her independence, her artistic mind's eye, and her lifetime of dreams in boxes of slides.

I'm not a frequent picture taker, but I have photographic memories.