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Faded Plastic Memories

I am the world’s worst when it comes to photographs. I don’t mean just in letting someone take one of me. I mean in labeling, dating and preserving the things. Many years from now, when my children get ready to look at old photos of them as children they will certainly develop some sort of new mental disorder thanks to Mom. Their births and early years, until about the age of three are recorded and the photos even exist today. After three they are on their own.

I was cleaning my home office the other day. Don’t be shocked. I had to. I couldn’t find the floor and had new stuff to put in there. Putting order to the mess was somewhat of a necessity. Besides. I found lots of things I didn’t know I had. It was much like a garage sale without having to pay for the things I wanted.

During this cleaning process I discovered two metal boxes that migrated from my MIL’s house after she passed away. In the boxes were photos of her and my FIL at various stages of their lives. Also in the boxes were documents from her grandparents, her great grandparents and from her great, great, great, great, grandparents. She had them all. To her credit, everything was identifiable. She was the best I have ever seen at not only dating the photographs she had, she put the names of every person in the photograph on that very photograph. No wondering who or when with my MIL around. She preserved her family’s history well.

Also discovered in the office during my rare streak of cleaning was one of those little gift baggie things. The type with the handles on them. This one was multi-colored so it could have drifted in for any number of holidays. Inside the bag were rolls and rolls of undeveloped 35mm (Yes. I know. Ancient stuff.) film. You got it. Undeveloped as in, who knows if the film is still good. Who knows what might be on the photos. Who knows when the photos were taken. And who knows if anyone alive today gives a damn about the memories in the bag. The bag probably contains the missing years of my children’s lives.

For just a short moment I considered having the film developed. But if I did I would then be faced with trying to figure out the whos and whats and whens of the photos. That’s too much responsibility for me and besides, my brain may work backwards but it does not house the information of the “before” years. Past history is in the past as far as I’m concerned.

I did follow progress enough to get a digital camera a few years ago. My Blackberry ® also takes pictures. Mostly the Blackberry® houses the photos of my grandchildren sent to my by my son. This last Christmas I did get industrious and printed out all the photos of my new grandson that were sent to my by my son. I even labeled, dated and put them in a photo album for the proud parents. Ok. Now I can add the labeling and dating to my “did that” list. I’m moving on to new things.

It was nostalgic looking through the old photos my MIL left. My children won’t be so lucky. When they begin to sort through the leftovers of my life they will most likely find the same undeveloped 35mm film still in the canisters in the multi-colored bag. They will also inherit flash cards with tons of pictures from my digital camera. They may not know who the digital people are but at least the camera dates the photos for them. They will also inherit a few CD’s full of photos with no more descriptive information than a date.

What can I say? Old habits die hard. Why would I bother to print out the digital pictures when I didn’t even develop the 35mm film that has been in the bag for 20 or 30 years? Why ruin a good streak when I’m on a roll?


From the life and mind of:

Wanda M. Argersinger

©2010 All Rights Reserved


About Wanda Argersinger


  1. Sadly, I got that box of photos from my mom shortly before she died. I say “sadly” because I have no idea who many of those people are, and I would give anything to know. I have contacted a couple of her cousins that are still living, but they don’t know all of them either.
    I have tried to do better so my kids will know who the people in our pictures will not be unknowns, but they will also get those other boxes that remain a mystery.

  2. I Kept all my photos beautifully until about 12 years ago. Now they are just in boxes until I got the digital and the rest are stored on my computer! My kids won’t find it easy either!

  3. I have multiple boxes & bags of unlabelled photos. I even started to scrapbook ( got through 2 books) so that my children would have pleasant thematic memories laid out for them. Alas, the piles of photos never seem to diminish.

    BUT….I would have to try to develop those rolls of film! What an adventure that could be!

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