Sunday, February 7, 2010

File under "Better late than never"

In my last post, I mentioned the negatives my dad had been meaning to scan for so many years. 

He was an amateur photographer all his life, but really honed his interest during high school, when his mother (who also loved photography) allowed him to use the lone bathroom in their house as a dark room, doing the processing in the tub.  (This did not go over well with dad's older sister, Virginia.)

The negatives were all shots taken around 1940-1942, just as my dad was finishing high school.  He was drafted in early 1942, but was allowed to finish out his senior year before reporting to the draft board at Fort Hayes in Columbus.  Among the hundreds of images are a couple of shots of the Greyhound buses that pulled into Grantsville, WV, to take all the local boys who'd been called up to Ohio.

While Dad (and the rest of us) had talked for years about scanning the film, it never happened, as is typical with such "One of these days I really oughta" tasks.  When he was in the rehab center, though, he said explicitly, "If I ever get vertical again, the one thing I want to do is scan those negatives."

That was all it took to spur my sister-in-law Suzanne, a computer and Photoshop whiz, to action.  She had been laid off from her job at Ernst & Young a few months earlier, so she said, "I'm unemployed; what else am I going to do?"

Over the next week or so, Suzanne and my brother Mark scanned and archived hundreds of images--the ones they assembled into the slide show mentioned previously.  They didn't quite get to all of them before Dad died, but they've completed them since, and Mark sent a DVD of them off to Bob Weaver, the editor of the Hur Herald, an online newsletter out of Calhoun County, WV.  Grantsville is the county seat, and was, at the time Dad shot the pictures, a fairly bustling town.

Bob's started posting Dad's images on the Hur Herald website, so mostly I'm just writing to cross-post what he's got there.

But the best news to come out of all of this is that Bob also plans to send the images on to West Virginia University's Historical Photographs Collection, which is truly an amazing resource.  I can't tell you how happy it makes me to know that even if we didn't get this task completed in time for Dad to fully enjoy the result, others will for years to come.

Image above:  self-portrait, experimenting with double exposures

1 comment:

Pam said...

I'm glad that Dad got to see at least some of those pictures. They generated some interesting stories that we never heard before. They were worth "a thousand words"