My lifelong obsession with photography began with looking through drawers of photos at my grandmothers’ houses.  They both threw them in a top drawer of a chest of drawers in a back bedroom and I would just stand there going through them, looking at my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncles, and friends and relatives that I didn’t know.

My father used to take a lot of pictures, especially during the war.  He had movies he took from his bomber while traveling to Puerto Rico and South America before flying over to Africa, snapshots of the guys stationed in Africa, and color movies of African cities.  He even took movies while on bombing missions.  He was the Squadron Commander and pilot.  He laughed much later, saying he took rolls of color film with him, not realizing he couldn’t replenish it easily during the war.  He took a few pictures of me when I was a baby, but he didn’t take that many through the years.  A few when he and my mother travelled, but not so many.

My mother didn’t really like photos until much later in her life.  Her father died when she was 5 and her mother struggled to raise three kids during the depression, so maybe she was trying to put those memories behind her, although she recalled those years with much humor and love.  She just didn’t like photography as much as I did, I guess.  In her later years, she treasured the photos of Daddy after he died and loved the ones of her grandkids.  They began to mean more to her.

When I was about 12, I got disgusted with the photos in our house being thrown in a box and put them in an album.  I didn’t really organize them and I glued them, so they’re hard to get out now.  I got my first camera around that time.  It was a Christmas present and I can still remember the bright yellow Kodak box it came in.  I was so proud of that camera!


It’s hard to explain to this generation, with their phones that have cameras built in for instant gratification, what it was like to have a camera until very, very recently.  My Brownie Hawkeye was the latest thing at the time for the general public, not like the fancy Nikons and Leicas that real photographers used.

My camera used flash bulbs, which were sometimes unreliable and not always handy.  You could take the flash attachment off if you wanted and we took a lot of pictures outside.  At my age, I was dependent on my parents for supplies, like film and bulbs, so I didn’t get to take as many pictures as I would like to.


Basically, here is what you had to do to get a picture:

1.  Load film in the camera.  This was tricky because you had to insert the end of the roll in one spool and roll it around, then insert the spool in the camera.  Sometimes, you didn’t roll it straight and had to do it again or the film would break.

2.  Once the film was in the camera, you rolled the film with the little knob on the side until the number 1 showed in a little window at the back.  Rolls of film had 12 pictures back then.  Later we got rolls with 25 pictures.

3.  If you were using flash, you had to attach the flash attachment and then insert a bulb, making sure it was in all the way.

4.  You looked down into the viewfinder and held the camera very still while pushing down on the release.  If you pushed too fast, you jerked the camera and ruined the picture, which you wouldn’t know until you saw the pictures later.

5.  Then you rolled the film to the next picture so that you didn’t double expose the film and have one picture on top of the other.

6.  You removed the flash bulb, which would be hot, and threw it away.

7.  At the end of the roll, which sometimes took weeks since we couldn’t take as many pictures, you rolled up the entire roll before taking it out so you didn’t expose the film to light.

8.  You took the roll to the drug store or someplace where they could develop it and waited a week to pick it up and see your pictures, which were small squares with black and white images.

Betty & car

Needless to say, I have embraced the advances in photography through the years, having many cameras, and loving my digital Nikon D5100 I have today, which takes photos and movies and gives me more than instant pleasure.  I took classes years ago, learning to develop and print, which has helped me now that I can edit on my computer.  I don’t know if photography is less or more trouble now since we spend more time on way more images, but it sure is fun.  My kids and grandkids won’t have a drawer of photos to look through, but they have my computer and Facebook and albums.

My lifelong fascination with capturing moments in time is undiminished through the years.  Click!