top of page
  • Writer's picturesallyinstpaul

Where Bloggers Live: Photo Album

Welcome back to the monthly edition of Where Bloggers Live! I am lucky to have joined a terrific group of bloggers who give a peek into the places and spaces where they spend their time.

Today's topic is Photo Album, and do I have a lot I could say...and more to the point, show about this topic! But first things first...

My dad's mom was infamous as a terrible gift giver when I was growing up. She probably doesn't qualify for Worst of All Time status (since she didn't give anyone typhoid or anything actually deadly) but by the usual grandparent standards, she was pretty bad. The worst gift I personally got from her was an old fake leather belt that was ripping apart and could wrap around my middle at least was obviously a belt she had put aside because it was in too poor of shape for her to wear, but somehow she thought it would make a reasonable gift for her teenage granddaughter.

But I think the worst gift anyone in my family got was my poor dad, who was given a can of tennis balls. Now my dad played tennis, so it was a good idea and we were all initially like, huh, that actually makes sense. Then my dad opened the plastic lid, realized that the can wasn't sealed, pulled out a tennis ball, and it was flat. We all realized at the same moment that she had gone out to the garage to scrounge for a gift, found a can of tennis balls (which would have belonged to my dad's dad, who had passed away some time before), and didn't check that they were new/unopened. (Why my granddad had a can of used, flat tennis balls in the garage is another mystery, of course, but well within my grandparents' usual parameters of weird.)

However, my grandmother sometimes did come through with something unobjectionable or even pretty good. When I was around high school age, she started sometimes giving a jar of peanuts with a $20 plastic banded to the side, which we were all very happy to get. (Note that this gift somewhat preceded the Simpsons "Honey Roasted Peanuts" sketch, but it's very associated with it in my mind now.) As my dad got older, he was more likely to get the prunes + $20 variant on this gift, which also wasn't bad.

But one year, she gave me this...

With this inscription inside...

To which she had already added a photo of herself and my grandfather on their wedding day...

And my dad's high school photo...

And my parents' wedding photo.

And I started adding more photos from the past (taken from my mom's photo album), like this one of my mom and baby me...

And with this one with my dad feeding me...

And this one, in which our cat Sam taught me how to pet a kitty (which is a critical life skill for which I will be forever grateful to him for having taught me at a young age so I can enjoy it for a full lifetime)...

And this one of my pre-eyeglasses self with my typical style going on: hair with bangs and braids, a dress, and the handbag that I remember carrying around the neighborhood that kindergarten year. It's weird because I'm really not into handbags as an adult, but I was all about carrying that purse. Maybe if dresses routinely had pockets, it wouldn't have felt as necessary, but maybe I just liked feeling more grown up.

This is one of my favorite photos (which I think my dad took with my camera) from when I was in about 6th grade. It's my dad's dad, one of my dad's sisters, me, and my mom. My sister was mad because she wasn't in the picture, so before I put it in the album, I cut an image of her from a different photo and glued her onto it. Yep, Photoshop 1980s style! She was a bit shorter in the photo than in real life (I mean, she's my little sister but not this little), but she was satisfied. My mom, aunt, sister, and I are definitely dressed of the era in our various ways. Stylistically, my feathered hair and light-colored plastic glasses are not the greatest look, but I pretty much stand by the rainbow striped top, white shorts, colorful necklace, and white earrings. My granddad looks sharp here and would not seem out of place if he walked into 2022 in that outfit, which is what a classic style gets you...totally ready for time travel.

When I got my own camera, taking pictures of my sister was common, and this is probably my #1 fave. She's totally zonked out in the backseat of the car after going to a relative's house on Christmas. Only my sister could be comfortable in such a contorted position, and only my sister would look this ridiculously elegant doing it. Even dead to the world asleep she looks like a dancer with that pointed foot and graceful hand.

It's funny now, thinking about having a camera that required film and processing, so that every photo you took had this extra expense you had to think about...which is a major factor, especially when you're still a kid!

I can't not include my 10th grade school photo with the GIANT glasses! (Really, they were cool at the time!) And my fuzzy hair with its awkward waves is on full display.

This got me curious to compare my dad's high school photo with mine, so for the first time, I looked at them side by side. I always knew I took after my dad, but with him being a generation older than me and wearing a mustache until finally shaving it later in life, the comparison was hard to make. But in similar poses, at similar ages, good grief! We could almost be twins. The high hairline, the waviness of the hair right there at the front, the shape of the face, the nose, the cheeks, the crooked smile, the chin, the smile line that is more pronounced on the one side, even that one small dimple that shows when we smile. The biggest differences are the eyes and the lips, where I take more after my mom.

My dad takes very strongly after his mom's side of the family, which means I do too. This was never as clear to me as when my grandmother's oldest sister came to town and when she saw me (I was about 12 at the time?), she turned to my grandmother and said with astonishment, "You're right. She looks exactly like her." (To be fair, it was unclear if she was more surprised by the resemblance or that my grandmother was right about something.) I wish I could remember who it was that I looked like, but one of the older generations in their family.

In the summer before I was a senior in high school, I went to southern California to visit a college and one of my dad's sisters took this photo...which I like because (1) good hair day and (2) short white socks with navy Keds was my go-to in that era.

For my senior prom, I let my sister apply eyeshadow and mascara, which I showed off in this rare photo without my glasses on. At that time, and now, I would never, ever, ever let anyone apply something around my eyes. (I am extraordinarily protective of my eyes and can't stand to let anything close. I have the distinction of being the person the optometrist of my youth said had the strongest blink reflex of any person he'd ever seen.) But at that time, and now, I would trust my sister to apply eye makeup on me for a special occasion. If she hadn't turned out to be a brilliant software developer and manager, she could have been a top-notch cosmetologist. Isn't that dress pretty? We had it custom made for me.

I love this photo of my mom and I (college age) singing Christmas songs from the Methodist hymnal. I'm not a very good singer, but I like to do it, and I like singing with my mom especially. She looks downright angelic here.

Another at-home-for-Christmas-during-college photo, from when I'd taken my hair really short! This is the famous alien Elvis, which I consider my greatest sugar cookie artistic achievement. I am glad to have the photographic evidence of its excellence.

This is one of the last photos in that album. I'm about 25, visiting my sister who is finishing college. And yeah, I had totally climbed onto this train engine, like you do.

And now, the pièce de résistance! One of the great loves of my life, my muse and favorite photographic subject of my youth: our cat Tiger! My dad's sister presented this kitten to us, and my sister and I promptly lost our minds because isn't he amazingly adorable?! Even my blurry photo can't diminish his exquisite kittenness. Oh those big ears that it took so long for him to grow into!

My sister took this photo of Tiger lounging on my parents' desk (note: he's almost grown into his ears now).

I have memories of Tiger fastidiously refusing to go into the snow, but at least once, he lived out a northern big cat fantasy and let me photograph it. He looks so intense!

Oh poor wet kitty! Look how skinny you are with your fur all smooshed down with water. He was smart to make a beeline for a heating vent.

Such a common scene, my mom petting Tiger, who is like Why are you looking at me through that weird thing? I always liked getting his shadow into a photograph, too.

Finally, one Christmas I got the same cat toy (a mechanical mouse that ran in a circuit inside this thing) for Tiger and for my mom's sister's cat Bell. Bell had it figured out in about 3 minutes because he was a genius of a cat. (We didn't know it at the time, but later, when Bell needed a home, my mom took him in and he became my parents' cat.)

Thanks for joining me on a trip through the photographs of the early years within this world of my own. Next month's topic is Favorite Movie...which is a bit of a tough one because picking just one favorite? I think I will just have to cover both of them in my post!

In the meantime, visit these lovely bloggers as they share about their photo albums today:

Bettye at Fashion Schlub

Daenel at Living Outside the Stacks

Em at Dust and Doghair

Iris at Iris’ Original Ramblings

Jodie at Jodie’s Touch of Style

Leslie at Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After

Do you remember how you got your first photo album? Did you start out taking photographs on film?

Blogs I link up with are listed here.

bottom of page