During my Christmas break from school I had planned to read several books. I love books and had bought several and had them stacked up to read, "when I had time". I only managed to read one, and it was a book of pictures with captions. It only took an hour or so to read through the book but it provided some thought provoking material for me.
The book was pictures from scenes in my father's home town, Oxford Mississippi. It also had a section on his alma mater, Ole Miss. I had bought it because I love Oxford and I also love old pictures of the past. To digress here this is probably because my grandmother entertained me on many sweltering afternoons with boxes of old cards, post cards and pictures. So one night just before Christmas the dogs and I snuggled up on the sofa and I spent some quiet time looking through these pictures.
At first I was looking for my father, or my grandparents or the name of a relative I would recognize. I looked carefully at the details of the pictures, remembering places from my childhood like the Square and Nielsen's. I tried to look beyond the grainy pictures and imagine each scene in color, in reality. I wondered why the men's clothes all seemed slightly disheveled and poor fitting; then I decided that that must have been the style! Then I started to really look into the pictures and examined the details. I thought about movies and TV shows that start with an old photograph that comes to life (or the shows that end with the final scene dissolving into an old, worn photograph). As I stared at one of the pictures of a store front I found myself bringing it to life in just that way. What color was it painted, and look at the style of the building, how old was it when this picture was made? The photo made it look old and dusty but as I looked closely I could tell that the building was not that old. I looked at the Priscilla type curtains in the window, and wondered what did this store sell? The closer I looked at the details the more real the store became and I realized that this was a picture but it had been made of a real place and captured how that store looked during that time. I continued to do this with all the pictures and soon I felt like I had really been there and was a part of the past. The pictures, even though they remained a grainy black and white, allowed me to see the reality of that time.
Funny thing, the next day I kept thinking about those scenes. They weren't just pictures any more; they were a glimpse into the past and in an odd way I felt that I had been in Oxford a long time ago. And, no I didn't find anyone I knew, but I did connect with my past and the town that my father grew up in and loved so much.
|The Lyceum, University of Mississippi|