Thursday, February 23, 2023

Throwback Thursday: My First Grade Class Picture, 1973

You might be able to tell this without my pointing it out, but I "fixed" the letters on the sign in Photoshop. It says exactly what the real sign said, but I replaced the text, which was too blurry to read in the original picture.

This is my first-grade class picture from about a million years ago – actually, not too far from fifty years ago – at Bethesda Elementary.

I'm the rather dour looking one on the front row, far left (as you're looking at the picture, but far right from the perspective of those of us on the other side of the lens – though I realize as I type this that I may not have known right from left at the time.). I don't know why I looked so unhappy to be there; maybe I was, even though I remember first grade happily and not in a way that explains my expression.

Our teacher, the only adult in the photograph, was Mrs. McDowall. She was an old lady – old, at least, by 1973's standards of "old"; society's standards, and my standards, for what constitutes "old" have changed a lot since then. I'm only a few years (I believe about six) away from the age she was in this picture, and I don't think of myself as "old." Not really, anyway; sometimes, in fact, I forget that I'm not still a teenager. In any case, I don't think someone in their early 60s is considered "old" in our culture anymore.

Actually, not everything I've written above is completely true: I do think of myself as "old," at least sometimes, and sometimes I refer to myself that way. Even if I'm really not, I sure feel old sometimes. And looking at pictures like this doesn't help. (Sigh…)

So, anyway…what I most remember about Mrs. McDowall is that she rewarded us for correct answers on (I think) math problems with a couple of M&Ms from a can, like a Maxwell House coffee can but with the M&Ms logo on it – did such a thing actually exist? Maybe it was just a coffee can and I am misremembering. But I can see her going down the aisles between desks and doling out M&Ms as she looked over our math problems, and in my memory, she was doling out those M&Ms from a big black tin can bearing the M&Ms logo. Maybe I'll do a quick Google search to see if I can find evidence that such a thing actually did exist.

Here's something else I remember about first grade: at some point when I was in Mrs. McDowall's class, my family went to Stone Mountain Park, and I was allowed to get one item from one of the gift shops there. What I chose was a small toy pocketknife; I don't know if it was actually sharp – probably not – but I believe the blade was real metal and it looked kind of real, despite being only about an inch long and having a red plastic handle. I took it to school; I don't think I was showing it off, and I'm sure I wasn't threatening anyone with it, but Mrs. McDowall confiscated it, as I now realize she should have, telling me I could have it back at the end of the year. I don't know if this happened near the beginning of the school year and I held on to the promise of getting my knife back for many months, or if it was near the end of the school year and it was only for a few weeks or maybe even days. However long it was, when the last day of school finally came, I reminded her about the confiscated knife and asked for it back. She remembered, or at least pretended to remember, and searched through her desk and a supply cabinet, but couldn't, and didn't, find it. She never found it! I never got it back! I think she mumbled some vague apology and went about with her life. I guess I went about with my life, too; I don't care about the knife now, and probably didn't just a few hours later, but I still remember.

Looking back, I realize that Richard Nixon was president when I started her class! Watergate was still some months in the future (and I wasn't aware of it when it did happen). It was a different country then. In 1973, you could buy a toy pocketknife in a gift shop and take it to school and not make national news; you just had it confiscated, and lost, and you never got it back. Which now that I think about it, wasn't a bad way to deal with the issue.

Looking back at the picture, I can say for sure that at least two of the people shown here are no longer living; Cynthia Drummond, in the top row, died of cancer a couple of years ago, and Angela King, also in the top row of this photo, died of a heart attack about a year ago. I know about their deaths because of social media; as far as I know the rest of the people in the photograph are still alive.

It was a long, long time ago. I remember it well, but I also don't remember it at all. Sometimes it's difficult to believe that I was even alive in 1973. I'm glad I have photographic evidence like this to prove that I was.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Indian Springs State Park

Today, Anna, the kids, and I went to Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla, Ga., which includes many beautiful stone buildings built nearly a century ago by the CCC (Creedence Clearw--no, that can't be right--Civilian Conservation Corps), and which was named for the spring water which can be accessed (and which there was a long line of people with empty containers waiting to get) at one point.

These are some of the pictures I took while we were there.

This building--an interpretive center or museum of some sort, I think--was closed, but I took this picture through the glass of the door. Looks very castle-like, doesn't it?

Friday, February 17, 2023

A Morning Lantern Poem

A morning lantern poem:

     Not too hot,
Cream and sugar–

(With thanks – or maybe blame; I'm not sure yet – to Brian P. Cleary, whose book If It Rains Pancakes: Haiku and Lantern Poems inspired me to write a short poem of my own. I apologize in advance if others follow.)

Monday, February 13, 2023

Scenes From a Morning Walk Around the Lake at Tribble Mill Park

Today I went for an early-morning walk at Tribble Mill Park. These are some of the pictures I took while I was there.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Throwback Thursday: My First Digital Camera

It's been a long time since I was on the vanguard of anything, but I did have one of these things (a digital camera) years before everybody had one in their pocket (in the form of a smartphone, or "pocket computer" as I prefer to call them). I came fairly early to the party of taking pictures digitally and storing them as files and posting them online for the amusement of others.

This is my first digital camera, a Kodak DC210 Plus, which I still have and which still works and which I bought on the same day as – in fact, just a few minutes before – my first date with Anna, more than twenty-three years ago, on August 11, 1999. And here are a couple of the first pictures I took with this camera, one of me in the Nissan Sentra I was driving then, and one a couple hours later of Anna standing in front of the place we met that day (though not in front of the actual restaurant where we ate):

I didn't buy the camera because I was going on a first date, but going to buy the camera – at an Office Depot on Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell – may have given me a certain confidence that I didn't otherwise have. I had been thinking about getting a digital camera for a while, and had done a little bit of research on what kind to get – though back in 1999, opportunities to easily do "research," at least online, were not what they are today. In any case, having a first date at a Chinese restaurant (Marco Polo; it's not there anymore, and neither is the Office Depot) that was near a store that sold cameras was the impetus I needed to go ahead and make the purchase.

I wanted a digital camera mostly to supplement the up-until-then all-text travelogues that I loved writing and sending out via e-mail when I went on trips; I wanted to post my travelogues online, with photographic evidence. I put the camera to use in that capacity just a few weeks later when I went to the TechLearn conference in Orlando for ExecuTrain – the third year in a row I had gone to that particular conference. I spent all my free time on that trip at Epcot, as I had the year before, and took lots of pictures, some of which I posted to an AOL-hosted page I created. That post is now available on Planet Burdett.

Even though I enjoy looking at the Orlando-trip pictures, I'm very happy that among the first pictures I took with this camera, besides the "selfie" of me in the driver's seat of my Nissan Sentra (though the term "selfie" didn't exist then), is the picture I took of Anna that night after we had dinner. There's even a date stamp on it! (I hadn't yet learned how to turn off that date stamp.)I also used it just a few days after buying it to take pictures at Zoo Atlanta, when Anna and I went on our second date the following Saturday, and also when we went to Savannah and Rock City and Amicalola Falls and lots of other trips Anna and I went on back then, when we were young and hadn't yet become parents (or even gotten married, for many of these trips). I created online travelogues for some of them.

Hey, look: this camera has a whole megapixel! That was a lot of dots back then. It also has a 2x zoom, which also was quite respectable in 1999. It takes four AA batteries, and records its images on a CF (compact flash) card, the SD card having not been invented yet.

A couple of years later, I replaced this camera with another Kodak DC model, which I don't remember and no longer have (I think it might have been a DC3400, but I'm not sure), but which made two megapixel pictures, and then a couple of years after that, when I was ready to get really serious about photography, with an Olympus Camedia E-10 (which had four megapixels, which probably really was just about enough). These days I take the majority of my pictures with my pocket computer, a Google Pixel 5a, but I also have a Canon 60D and a Nikon P7800, both of which I like and use sometimes.