Dreaming in black and white

I’ve always had a fascination with old black and white photos. A trip to the Cracker Barrel can send me to another time staring at the wall pondering who those strangers are and if they ever imagined that photo would be looking down on me as I enjoyed my country ham and eggs.

This particular photo is one of my all-time favorites, the faded brown and the worn cracks accentuate its nostalgia and appeal. A snap-shot of two men who never did anything particularly special. They never made millions of dollars, didn’t create a start up, never invented a cellphone app, and will never be talked about in elementary school history books.

From the late 30‘s this picture, of two brothers and their canine companions, encapsulate a time when life didn’t revolve around one’s profile status or latest tweet. When celebrity antics weren’t the center of our culture and children’s role models were people who actually contributed to society instead of tearing it down. When people sincerely wanted to know how their neighbors were doing instead of hiding behind closed garage doors and pulled curtains.

Theirs was a different time where how you lived was more important than where you lived;  when people could be counted on always and not just when there wasn’t anything better to do. It was a time when one’s word really was their bond and a handshake was a solid as a 100 page legal contract. The picture’s lack of color brings the unassuming character of those days into stark focus, where a young man could hold a shotgun, wear a 3-piece suit, and not be attacked for having an identity crisis.

And though I never lived then, I nonetheless find myself missing those days deeply.

I would like to have been these boys’ friend. I would like to have asked, on that sunny day, where is he going in that suit? What are the names of the dogs? Do they have love interests? Do they ever get scared about the future? Do they want children? What are their goals and aspirations? What do they do for fun and would they take me along. I want to see their world, go to their favorite hunting spots, fishing holes, and meet their friends; or just sit under the shade of an oak tree and talk.

Though what I wouldn’t tell them is that there will come a day, in their not-to-distant future, when these boys’ wisdom and experience will be sought after and their approval will be cherished. That they will have a generation of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who will carry memories of them to the corners of the globe. That their impact on others will go far beyond their mortal years.

Maybe age brings a desire for the good ‘ole days but looking at this black and white photo my soul longs to experience that time when my son could spend all day playing in and exploring his world without feeling the need to continuously peek out the window to check on him. I wish for the time when my daughter’s self worth wouldn’t be influenced by magazine covers and obnoxious pop stars, and that boys would naturally respect her for the woman she will become. When our need to be liked would be less important than the hope to be respected and eye contact with a stranger wouldn’t be avoidable by imaginary text messages; and  economic recessions and cultural depressions were less troublesome than a neighbor’s well-being.

I’m certainly not naive enough to believe that our culture will suddenly wake up and realize how much we gotten wrong. I know that tomorrow morning the rat race will still be in overdrive and ‘getting mine‘ will be our cultural mantra.

But it is nice to dream, even if it is in black and white.

 (dedication to all of my grandparents, I’ll see you again someday)

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16 responses to Dreaming in black and white

  1. Lori

    Kim Cattrall was recently on “Who Do You Think You Are?”… not that is matters who it was in this case. The point being that in the 1930’s, her paternal grandfather up and walked out on her grandmother and three daughters, I believe they were all under 8. They never knew what happened to him and the girls grew up in tenements. The show’s researchers found that he married another woman (becoming a bigamist) and settled in a few miles from his old family,having some more children. We have a rather idealized view of those hard working people. But the truth is, there have always been liars, thieves, gossips, cowards, etc. We’re not on the brink of destruction anymore than we ever have been 🙂 That said, I love the old black and whites, too.

  2. Ah nice. I love these old pictures too.

    My grandfather served in WWII and took a camera with him. To date, he has hundreds of photos through France and into Germany. Pictures of him doing his job, the Eiffel Tower and his fellow band of brothers. I love those pictures. I also love the letters home he sent to his “darling”, my grandmother.

    It does seem like life was simpler then, doesn’t it? We say technology will simplify our lives but it has only made REALITY more scarce, hasn’t it?

    Good post.

  3. Adslinstaller

    good post & GREAT video/song. i lived the better part of my life in & around nashvile. i worked for the phone company for 10+ years in brentwood & belle meade areas, so i met several country stars & they are some amazing people, but Jamey Johnson is an amazing guy/character. he has been thru some crazy stuff in his life & written/co-written some great songs, but In Color is & always will be a favorite of mine

  4. The first time I heard that song, I cried, I’m serious. It so reminds me of my grandparents, especially my grandfather in the picture above. Johnson is a great song writer, not the most engaging stage presence (i’ve seen him a time or two) but he can write and play and that’s all that matters. I like several of his songs.

    Side note, I grew up in Dickson so I know all about belle meade and brentwood.

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to post a comment! Please stop back by anytime.

  5. I hope you are able to keep those photos , those are memories to cherish for a lifetime.

    Reality is almost non existent unless it’s on TV.

    Thanks T!

  6. Lori, you’re totally right. There has been and always will be those types. I guess my frame of reference is a bit different. I think being poor kept my family from doing those things and if they were anything they were “salt of the earth’.

    I probably do have a bit too much of a rosy outlook on the past, but for the life of me I think that so much of that culture and how they approached life in general is missing in our modern society, and we could use it.

    Thanks as always for stopping in!

  7. Danielle

    Funny, I have this overwhelming need to know about my grandparents childhoods. I was in my 30’s when they dies and yet I didn’t have the fortitude to ask them questions. I hate that I was so self centered at that age and now I can’t ask!

  8. Mrsensing

    Who is in the photo? I see you said your grandad, but who else? Mandy (Turner) Sensing 🙂

  9. Hello there Mrs. Sensing! I hope all is well. That would be his older brother Uncle Alonzo Seals. He live down the road from Nanny and Gocky.

    Tell you family I said hello!

  10. I understand, I actually took time about 3 years ago to video tape my grandmother’s life (she’s my lone surviving grandparent) in her own words. As much as I was hoping for something jaw dropping, it didn’t come, but I’m still happy that I got it. She’s 93 now and in a nursing home and will sadly never go back home.

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