Something Negative Turned Out Positive

I don’t remember why my mother bought me a camera, but I can pretty much date the arrival of the Brownie Hawkeye into my life as 1954—or 1955. I know that because I have all of the photos from that period and some have dates on them.

I kept an album and the photos were stuck onto a page with black sticky corners. You had to lick them and they tasted terrible, but I endured. I may have graduated to a wet sponge eventually. I don’t remember.

Sometime after I married, my mother must have given me the album. There were fuzzy photos of a rampaging Little Schuylkill during the flood of 1955. And of a bus trip we 5th graders at Arlington Street School took to Valley Forge. When one of my classmates died, I sent a photo of him at Valley Forge to his widow.

Some photographs show friends playing basketball at the East End Playground. Later photographs show the town celebrating its 125th anniversary, which honored the Native American. We were taught that the name of our town, Tamaqua, was Indian in origin.

Other photographs show my train set and my younger cousins watching my trains. Then there was a trip to the Jersey shore with cousins.

Eventually I graduated to color and I have those photos, too. The sticky corners didn’t hold up after all these years and I removed most of the photos from the album, although I kept the album and the photos and stuck them in a box with other albums, the box relegated to a shelf or two in our garage.

What I lost in all those years were the negatives. Not that I needed them. I had the photos.

The other day I was rummaging through some boxes that contain photographs and newspaper clips acquired by my 95-year-old mother. I am creating a legacy DVD for children, sisters and cousins, mostly photographs that predate me (although I couldn’t resist including some of myself as an adult).

One of the envelopes that my mother had saved all these years was stuffed with square negatives. I dismissed the first envelope, but a few hours later gave it a second thought when I came across a second envelope and held one of the negatives up to the light.

It was Mr. Dillon! A neighbor in the 600 block of Arlington Street. Another showed young boys roasting hot dogs or marshmallows around a campfire. I recognized the negatives because I had taken the photos. What a great find!

I don’t know that I’ll be scanning any of the negatives, but just knowing that I have them after all these years is a good feeling. As a friend put, “Something negative turned out positive.” Bad pun, but nice sentiment.

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