I opened up the weathered trunk and started pulling the old photos out to scan before they faded beyond recall or restoration. Time is of the essence, for even though they survived the fire in February, they took a good soaking in the process. My mother took them all out, carefully dried each one and laid them out to dry on ever surface of her dining and living room but still the water took its toll.
I look at one, then another, and it’s an odd feeling to look at that little girl and realize that I am she. The oldest photos are black and white, but the colors and those special days live in my memory as if they were yesterday. It’s hard to believe there was ever a time when a camera was a luxury, but back then few people owned one; we most certainly did not.
That didn’t stop my mom and dad. They believed there are occasions and milestones in a child’s life that should be documented in film. The first six years of my life, every Easter and every birthday were occasion for a new outfit and a trip to the local photographer at the Maya Studio on West Houston Street in San Antonio, Texas. I only know it’s name, because it is printed on the back of some of the photos along with a date.
It was a magical place with a little stage, and the old man would fuss around me, seating me first here then there, arranging my skirts or hair, all the time giving me directions. “Cross you feet at the ankle. Fold your hands in your lap. Look at me. Smile, I need a smile.” He never seemed to be still or quiet the whole time.
There was no color film in the earliest pictures, so when mom wanted color, she paid extra to have the photographer tint the photo. It was okay for the most part, but I always hated my hair and cheeks. They would make my hair brown when it is raven black and put more color on my cheeks than a clown should wear. I always liked the black and white ones best and I still do.
Of all the things rescued from my ruined home, these are the most precious – these frozen moments in time.