This world that I live in is changing so fast I really can’t keep up. A visit with some of the family I don’t see very often brought that home in a big way. Seems like every time I turned around, someone had a phone/camera/Ipod type device aimed and shooting at either one of us or something that was of interest at the time. My question is, what do they do with all of these pictures?
I know, they are stored in little bitty chips in a safe place. I wonder if anyone will ever look at them again! I also note that if I ask to see some of them down the line, suddenly the photographer can’t find the images that recently were so important. This brings me right back into our local history. I loved standing in the doorway of the new Community 1st Bank — our old Murphy’s Drug Store has risen like the Phoenix, masterfully — and looking down Sixth Street, which hasn’t changed in many ways. Just across the street from the new bank, on the East side of Sixth, was Rex Studio, our photography studio back in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I remember Rex Morrison lugging those huge cameras, cartons of flash bulb equipment and the black cloth he had to hide under to take our many class pictures for our Vegas, then Robertson High School annual. None of us kids were ever allowed near the camera after it was mounted on that big iron tripod. Bump that and we’d be paying dearly for life.
My parents drug sweet brother Bill and me into Rex’s studio almost every year for family pictures of some sort. The word “fake” had to be invented just for Bill. I never saw anyone who could pull up such a fake smile so fast, then make such a horrific face the moment he was sure Rex and our mother weren’t watching. Mother also had her brownie box camera, and we had to pose in some interesting (to her) settings for the annual family Christmas card. Bill faked that very fake smile through holding our dogs, riding a horse (which he hated) leaning on the corral fence, feeding our fawn a bottle and so much more. They are fun to look at now, but at the time both of us were known to suddenly disappear when we saw Mother haul out the camera.
Back to Rex and his very professional photography. Our father decided (as usual, always on the spur of the moment) that since my grandmother and my aunt were visiting us from Chicago, we should have a portrait done of the four women in his life: my grandmother, my aunt (his sister), me and our daughter Sherry who was about 3 years old. Grandma thought this really was a goofy idea, Aunt Irma wanted to look for some shoes across the way at Hoffman and Graubarths, and I wanted to escape with my fidgety kid ASAP before she squirmed out of my arms and tried to work that big camera. Rex took several shots of us, posed in a formal setting. No two of the pictures were alike, because someone was either laughing, frowning, twitching her feet (Sherry) or glaring at Doc for imposing on our lives in such a difficult way.
Well, finally (I imagine it was the last shot Rex had time for) one image did fit the bill, so to speak. Doc never did anything in a small way, so of course every member of our family got a framed copy of the 4 generations of the Gellenthien family. At long last I’m glad he made us sit through that torture, and I just hope all of these new, young photographers continue to record family events, then remember where they are stored. And I’ll always be thankful that Las Vegas had the Rex studio, which recorded so much of our history on film so long ago.
Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.