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The Telegram
  • Gary Brown: Put the album away before more damage is done

  • Perhaps few things in life prompt more home remodeling and room redecorating than looking at old photographs.

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  • Perhaps few things in life prompt more home remodeling and room redecorating than looking at old photographs.
    Who knew that family photo albums filled with images of the way we were — wait, were we like that?  — could be so expensive and time-consuming? And I don’t mean just the cost of the glossy pictures and the leather-bound books that we keep them in.
    Friends recently were looking through their cherished photos and most members of the family were remembering important moments or recalling fond memories or ridiculing respected parents or grandparents for their clothing or hair styles.
    “Look at his goofy mustache,” might have been heard. Or, somebody could have asked, “Who’s the hippie wearing bell-bottoms?” Likely someone saw some family resemblance between someone who is young now and someone who was youthful in an old picture, way back when, but that was many pounds or wrinkles ago.
    Could we put this album away now, before any more damage is done?
    Too late
    No, they kept on looking. And one individual — a matriarch in the family if you must know — suddenly stared at a picture and looked deep into the image. Her eyes bypassed those standing in it, ignored any memories they may have illustrated, and focused in on the background of the old photo.
    “That’s the same furniture in the picture that we still have in our family room?”
    Oh, no. This kind of observation can lead to ... never mind, too late, she was already talking about getting a new couch and a chair and maybe replacing the coffee table.
    Why do people take pictures when they know it’s eventually going to cause them so much pain and expense?
    The old furniture was fine furniture. No doubt it was built to last, and it did, which was why it ended up in so many incriminating family photographs — pictures that ultimately led to its own demise.
    And with all the photos people are taking today with digital cameras and cellphones, this new furniture my friends purchased isn’t going to last nearly as long as what went before it. Fading old Polaroids and grayed-out Instamatic images gradually let lingering furniture blend into a background, and kind of stay out of the picture, so to speak, until one day somebody notices it with tragic and costly ramifications.
    Knowing that photographs are going to get sharper and clearer as technology advances, and the details in them more noticeable, my friends aren’t likely to let this new furniture hang around long enough to make them look old by lengthy ownership.
    A warning
    And, not only are old pictures expensive, they can be emotionally distressing. They can cause people who look at them to notice old family heirlooms and wonder silently, “Have I become an heirloom, too?” And this leads to the dangerous spoken question, posed to a spouse, “Do you still love me now that we’ve gotten old?”
    Page 2 of 2 - Now, the response that most males would think would be reasonable and loving would be to say, “Yes I do.” And these clueless males would be wrong.
    “So you do think I look old?”
    My advice to you is don’t look at your old pictures. Throw them out now, before they make you buy something expensive or say something stupid.
    Contact Gary Brown at gary.brown@cantonrep.com.
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