Monday, April 14, 2008

Down With O.P.P.

For those of you who even remember that wretched song 1) shame on you for letting that song take up space in your brain and 2) get your minds out of the gutter.

What I'm talking about are Other People's Pictures. Mr. Daddy and I caught the tail end of a documentary by that name on the Documentary channel this evening and it looked utterly fascinating. For those of you who don't feel like clicking over, this film followed several individuals who scour antique markets, collecting photographs and snapshots of people they don't know. One male, um, "collector" likes only photographs of sailors. There are some who collect photos that tell an unfinished story and there is a subgroup who collect photographs that catch the photographers shadow. How cool is that? I could totally get into a hobby like that! I adore looking at old pictures, especially people I don't know. I think it's the nosey in me -- Who are they? What were they like? Were they married? Did they have children? What's going on in the picture? I mean, even the most innocent family portraits can hide a multitude of Peyton Place-ian goings on.

I also love looking at the back of old postcards, reading the messages sent between friends, lovers, family members. Once, as part of my job, I had to sort through a collection of old Valentine's postcards, most from the early 1910s and 20s. It was such a fascinating look at life and at what society deemed as acceptable communication between young men and women.

I remember when I was in high school I found a packet of letters in an antique store. A friend and I read through many of them and though I can't recall now the story that they told, I do remember that my friend and I quickly found ourselves engrossed in the relationship between the correspondents. I had grand, romantic ideas of creating a book based on the correspondence, but when I asked the owner about purchasing the letters, he told me he wasn't sure. He didn't even know they were there or who they belonged to. He was was uncomfortable selling them to me without trying to find out if someone wanted them back. I told him I would check back, but I never went returned to the store. I wonder what happened to those letters.

You know, I once infamously cried during a Mercedes commercial. An older Mercedes is about to be crushed for scrap and the life it spent with its family begins to flash through its eyes. (Hush! It was sad!) But that's what these photographs are...someone's life. Flashing before my eyes. How cool is it that we all get to live on...via photograph. Maybe one day someone will be looking at photos of me and my family in an antique store. I hope they make up a happy story.


1blueshi1 said...

great post! I have a black and white picture of a plump, curlyheaded baby framed and hanging on my wall...I bought it at a vintage store along with a fabulous antique mirror. Have no idea who the kid is, just love the pic.
also, I have the entirety of my teenage correspondence with one of my high school boyfriends--I kept all of his notes (including the one he sent me after his semester of college, which closed with the gem, "I now realize that you're more than just a broken doll I used to play with.") He had saved all of mine as well and gave them to me, I too had fantasies of writing a book based on those notes--isn't there a very popular book based on that very idea? Has the name Sabine in the title? Will have to google and see.

1blueshi1 said...

Aha! What the Giant Brain Hole forgets, the internets remembers! Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock. Am off to req from lib!

Tootsie Farklepants said...

I love pictures too! Whenever I'm at someone's house I'm always looking at the photos on display and I ask lots of questions.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

I absolutely remember that commercial. It made me sad, too.

You already know I'm a photo whore, so I won't even bother to say a word about it.

Laurel said...

You do realize that I hadn't thought of that song in ever so long until you mentioned it. Thanks a lot! Now. I. Can't. Get. It. Out. Of. My. Brain. Please make it stop!

I also love learning about other people's lives. When we travel, my favorite thing to do is visit old homes that have been turned into museums because I get a peek inside the lives of the families who lived there. I think it's especially fascinating if they aren't really famous. Weird.

Birdie said...

to sya i relate is an understatement. I love all things old. I've already staked my claims on as many of my Gramma's photos that I can get my hands on. Know what else I love? Graveyards - for the same reason. When I was a kid we used to go to Maine to see my grandparents for the summers and we'd go visit all these graveyards where family was buried. It's something old people do I guess...there was this great cemetery that we used to go to every year. We bought our Italian sandwiches and picnicked there up on the hill.Where else can you get that much peace & quiet?I have a picture of me standing there between two stone angels. I'll have to look up that picture now.

Amanda said...

What a beautiful post. When I'm in an antique store (which is rare) I do find myself intrigued with old photographs. I always wonder what life was really like for women "way back when". Where they happy? I can't imagine I would be but, then again, they didn't know any other way of life. Like I don't know any other way of life and one day my grandchildren will probably wonder how I managed. lol!

Lulu said...

It's so sad to me that old pictures end up in antique stores! What happened to their families? Why don't they have the pictures? That's what I think about when I see those pictures. It breaks my heart.