Columns

Reliving my past with stack of old photos 2016.03.02

By RICH FOLEY 

Yeah, I know. You’re only reading this because the Parent’s Pride feature isn’t running until next week. In the meantime, I’ve been viewing a collection of kid photos myself, except that the child in all of them is me.

I’ve written before that very few photos of me as a child exist, compared to literally hundreds of my older siblings. Recently, however, my brother Frank discovered an old family photo stash. Not only did it include a few photos I had assumed were lost, there were others I didn’t even remember. All told, I’m in almost 40 photos, about two dozen of those with me alone.

A few were developed in April 1956, when I was only two months old. One of them shows me looking off the edge of a sofa. In another, I’m on a baby blanket on top of our kitchen table, a table still in use when I got my first apartment in 1983.

A photo developed in September 1956 features my mother holding me as I received what must have been my first haircut. Today, I’m still sporting the same hairstyle.

Then, photos started to get fewer and farther between. The next one, from September 1957, shows me standing in front of a yard swing, followed by two July 1958 shots of me clad only in a pair of shorts. I will definitely not be posing for any more of those.

The next photo, from June of 1959, was one I’ve wanted to find for years. In it, I’m riding an elephant at the grand opening of the new Kroger store in Adrian. I don’t look scared at all. And it wasn’t the only time I defied death that year.

Three months later, there’s a photo of me sitting in what I laughingly call my first race car. It was a go-kart belonging to Mike Wilson, son of one of my father’s co-workers. My brother Frank actually got to drive it. Being just three at the time, I only got to pose for a photo behind the wheel. What happened later is what makes the photo special.

Mike, the go-kart owner, later became a prominent area short-track race driver. A mere 27 years after I sat in his go-kart, I interviewed him for a feature story for the paper I was then working for. At that time, I took a photo of Mike sitting behind the wheel of his stock car. I wonder if he still has the go-kart?

A photo that wasn’t developed until March 1960 shows me visiting Santa and had to have been from the previous Christmas. In those days, Santa set up shop locally in the basement of the long-gone Tibbs grocery store in downtown Manitou Beach. I no longer remember what I asked for, but I love the winter hat I’m wearing.

Two more photos are of me on my first day of kindergarten. By then, the photos were slowing to a mere trickle. Even though the occasion took place in late August or early September 1961, the photos weren’t developed until 1963.

I was wearing what must have been the height of fashion in those days, an outfit styled after that of TV hero Bat Masterson, portrayed in black and white by Gene Barry. I was even wearing a Colonel Sanders-style string tie. Apparently, the cane Bat used to dispatch the bad guys didn’t come with the outfit.

An undated photo, which I’m guessing was taken in late 1963 or 1964, has me in a Halloween costume patterned after another TV hero, Zorro. I remember winning a prize at school for best homemade costume. My mother really outdid herself with this, especially the finely crafted sword which would probably get me suspended today. 

In the next photo, from 1966, I’m standing by some sunflowers in the back yard. The final one looks to be from about 1970. I’m sitting in the living room, reading a copy of the Brooklyn Exponent. Someone must have been in a hurry to finish the roll of film.

There’s also a series of birthday photos featuring me posing with a cake. The earlier ones include my life-long friend, Teddy, the foam rubber bear. My eighth birthday photo, from 1964, is the first one in color and the last one before I got glasses.

 The 1965 birthday shot is my first with glasses and the last one taken, unless possible later ones are yet to be discovered, although I’m fairly sure there aren’t any. I still don’t have enough photos to fill an album, but at least there were enough to fill a column. Thanks for joining me on a trip down memory lane. For you proud parents out there, only seven more days to wait.