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.


Service Above and Beyond

A couple of months ago I needed to get a quick oil change before we took a long weekend trip. I dropped in to a nearby Jiffy Lube and my car was quickly on the rack and everything taken care. In the meantime, I waited in a pleasant room with free coffee, soft drinks and popcorn. (I had some popcorn.)

When my car was ready and my bill paid, the service manager walked me to my car, opened the door for me and handed me my keys, all while expressing gratitude for my business. The mechanic who worked on my car waved from his service bay and then thanked me and urged me to come again.

Last week when major service on my car was completed at the dealership where I bought it, the service agent went through everything that had been done to the car and explained what it all meant. This is routine for this dealer, but in light of Jiffy Lube and Santa Fe Imaging, I took greater note.

If you’ve read my previous blog entry, you know that I complained about lousy service after getting an aorta ultrasound. I’m still waiting for a response from the imaging service and I’m beginning to suspect I’m not going to get one.

Medical service, of course, is life and death and it would be difficult to declare that I’m not going there again, etc. In the case of the imaging service, my doctor said it’s the only one in town that could perform what she wanted. 

Be that as it may, the contrast between Jiffy Lube and Santa Fe Imaging is noteworthy. I mentioned it to my wife and we both agreed that given the economic climate, it’s good business to pay attention to customers no matter how little they spend.

Doesn’t the Walmart greeter make you feel good? Even the people who check your purchases at the door at Sam’s wish you a good day as if they really mean it and you want to respond in kind. 

If the downturn in the economy has meant one thing, it may be more touchy-feel treatment from providers of all kinds of service, from the mechanic in the service bay who changes your oil to the owner of a restaurant.

I hope that when (not if) the economy improves, the treatment continues.

It makes my day.