2006.02.22 Nothing but a child's photo will do

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

I know what you’re thinking. There’s no Parent’s Pride in this week’s paper and now you’re stuck reading this column instead of checking out the children. How about I try to fill the gap by writing about children’s photos instead? OK, don’t answer that.

You’ll notice that unlike the practice at most big city papers, my own photo doesn’t appear here with the column. I’d much prefer that people read my column and decide I’m an idiot than make that snap judgment from my photo alone. Besides, I just haven’t had that much experience having my photo taken.

As the youngest of four children, I suffer from the same fate as the junior member of many families. By the time I was born, the newness of having children and novelty of photographing them had long worn off. The result being very few photos of me exist and I never got much practice posing for them.

My standard joke used to be that there were about 800 photos taken of my sister as a child, 500 or so of my oldest brother, 150 of my next brother and about 10 of me. I was always told that it wasn’t the case, but no  large stack of photos were ever introduced in evidence to debunk my statement. And what few photos I was shown usually included the other children.

My Aunt Liz was visiting us to attend my high school graduation when I happened to mention this phenomenon. A day or so later, I came home to discover she had purchased one of those large collage frames, perused the boxes of family photos, and had assembled about a dozen photos of me in the provided frame openings.

“Now, see how many photos there are of you!” Aunt Liz said. “How many did you have left over?” I replied. “Not many,” she answered sadly. And several of those she used featured the other children.

The one photo I remember most from childhood seems to have disappeared. When I was about three or four years old, a new Kroger store opened in Adrian. As part of the festivities, Top Value stamps, whose logo included a cartoon elephant, had a real elephant at the store to give rides to children. They even took your picture with you sitting on the elephant.

I remember the elephant, I remember riding it, I even remember the photo that was taken of me riding it, but where is the photo today? Did a jealous sibling tear it up?

I  currently have a total of four photos of me as a child. My favorite is one of me lying on the kitchen table at nine months, either waiting for or in the afterglow of a diaper change. I look pretty happy, so I’m guessing after. My favorite part is the chair sitting behind me. It’s one of those typical 1950s kitchen chairs with the tube frame and heavily padded seat and back. I wish I had a couple of those today.

Once I got old enough to start taking my own photos, I seem to have followed the same family practice. Even though I never had any children, I have lots of photos of my first few cars.

I have photos of my Mustang in the infield at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and at Castle Rock in St. Ignace. I have photos of my Dodge Charger along Route 66 in Oklahoma. Then, as with children, the novelty began to wear off.

 Photos of later vehicles include my Ford Tempo in front of my apartment in Adrian, the Ford Aerostar in front of the three bridges in Blissfield, and inexplicably, my Chevy Malibu sitting in the Meijer parking lot. No photographic evidence exists of my noble deer-smacking Caprice or any of its later replacements.

Going through some of my auto racing photos is interesting, too. Some of my favorites were taken at one of the Formula One races in Detroit more than 20 years ago. The organizers actually cut a small hole in the fencing on one of the curves, large enough for a photographer to stick a lens through. If the photos look like I was only about three feet from the cars, that’s because that was the case. I’m sure that wouldn’t be allowed today.

I also have photos of a couple of attractive women attending the race. One of them waved when she saw me taking her picture, then came over and demanded that I send her copies. I told her she’d have to  give me her address. Then she decided she didn’t want it after all. Too bad, it’s a great photo.

But sometimes, only a kid picture will do. At my Aunt Sue’s 99th birthday dinner last year, half the people there were sharing photos of their children or grandchildren. I offered to pass around my AAA card, but no one was interested. I’m just going to have to find that photo of me riding the elephant.

– February 22, 2006
  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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