Do you remember the Poloroid camera? Do you have a shoe box full of family snapshots taken with a Poloroid?
Several days ago, I extolled the virtues of the iPhone camera and, digital photography. And, I meant what I said. But, what digital photography has done, is to do away with the family album. That album that is passed from generation to generation, growing in importance each and every year and, with each new born. We don’t print pictures anymore. We load them onto our computers, share them on Facebook, include them in blog posts but, we don’t save them in a shoe box for the next generation to cherish.
My mother passed away a decade ago. When I was cleaning out her house preparing it for sale, I looked high and low for our family album. The album that I loved pouring over to see pictures of myself, my brother, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great grandparents. Pictures of holidays, birthdays, Christmas and other family gatherings. It is the one artifact I wanted preserved.
I couldn’t find it. And, the house was sold.
Five years later, I visited the family cottage. I didn’t sell it when my mother passed. I couldn’t. And yet, I visit infrequently because I now live a continent away. I walked into the cottage for the first time in several years only to discover considerable water damage in my bedroom. The roof had been leaking for several years without being detected. I was horrified and, actually screamed out in disbelief. I had to gut the room, dry it out and rebuild. I was devastated. My Dad (and I) built the cottage and it is the one place I feel rooted and, at peace. I couldn’t lose it and the family album too.
There is good in all bad. You just have to dig deep. When I was gutting the bedroom, guess what I discovered? The family album. My mother, in all her wisdom, had stored it for all posterity atop a false ceiling in a closet. I was overwhelmed. I immediately pulled it down and began rummaging through it. Some of the prints were damp but nothing a little sun couldn’t fix.
As a kid, we had a Poloroid camera. It was the first camera I ever used. I remember a weekend visiting with my maternal grandparents continually taking candid shots of them in their underwear, cooking breakfast for everyone. My grandfather was a chef. Those are some of my favourite memories.
Did you know that Poloroid stopped making film for the camera in February 2008? There is no film left. These treasures are gone forever. Teenagers today may be the first generation not to have a shoebox full of candid, family photographs to share with their children. What a tragedy.
There is hope, a possibility someone will step up and begin producing Poloroid film again. A project called The Impossible Project, is attempting to replicate the original process and have had some success to date. So, if you still have a Poloroid camera and, enjoy analog photography, take a look.
I never had one. When I finally had the money to buy one, I had to find out that there is no film for it anymore. It’s such a loss.
That’s unfortunate. They are (were) magical. Images would slowly appear right in front of you like in a darkroom. Now that I am more experienced, I wish I still had a Poloroid.
I was so jealous because all the kids had it and we were not among the very wealthy ones, so my parents couldn’t afford one. It’s a pity that digitalization has killed such oldies.
I just read your most recent post. It’s a powerful and compelling read 🙂
I wonder why your mother did that? Was she expecting you’d find it years and years later?
I knew she would not willingly get rid of the album. I suspect she was cleaning or painting and moved the album out of her way and forgot to put it back.
It’s interesting you say that though. I remember after she passed away, I went to her bank to clean out her safety deposit box. Sitting atop all the documents was a sealed envelope with a letter inside addressed to me. It began with “If you are reading this, I am gone”. She was expecting me. I sat for an hour or more examining the contents and drying my eyes every few minutes. She must have written the letter months before her passing.
I have always wanted one of those, there is something so tempting about holding a memory in your hands rather than scroll through it on your phone. The instant nature of it adds to the fun!
They were magical!