Photo Friday

What’s in Mrs. Hale’s Receipts for the Million 1857?

672. To mount Prints or Maps. – Upon a table, floor, or board, stretch a piece of calico or smooth canvas, by first fixing it with tacks along one side then straining it tightly with one hand, and driving the tacks with the other: nail the remaining edges, leaving no wrinkled on the surface. Paste the back of the print or map,fold it together and let it remain until the paper is soaked, then open it and place it evenly on the canvas, cover it with a sheet of clean paper, and beginning in the middle, rub it down carefully.


Japan, 1953

Sometimes our parents’ lives are a mystery, something to be discovered much later in life. All you have is a vague childhood memory. In the summer of 1953, my family made a major move from Washington D.C. where my father, a physicist, worked during the war years. It was a grand, some times unsettling adventure for me, just a second grader. (I was very shy then) Right after we moved into our new home in Forest Hills, outside of Pittsburgh, we went out for a month’s stay with my Nana in Boise where my mom grew up.  Daddy went to Japan.

My father, John A. Osborn, was in a group of scientists, the first since the end of WW II, that went to Kyoto for a conference on magnetism and other topics. An amateur photographer, I remember seeing the slides he brought back from his month long visit (some exquisite Kabuki dolls for me and strange sounds coming from a record with Japanese music) . He showed the slides many times on our living room and then after time disappeared. I found a box full of them a few years and had them scanned. Then with the report he made to his boss at Westinghouse, I was able to map out the movement of his time there.  This photo was taken in the town of Miyjima, on one its shopping streets. Though the color has faded, you can see a tantalizing glimpse of life in 1953. I’m not sure if the country was still under occupation, but there is a hint of the old with the new. All the slides in the box are now scanned and ready to be shared with siblings and grandchildren.

Photographs are precious. Take good care of them. Use archival materials. And if you are doing digital as most of us are, remember to make hard copies of the most important ones.  Color lasts 50 years, black and white a 100 years and beyond. Digital can go poof and it’s gone.


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