I love to explore historical towns. I especially enjoy comparing old town photos to the current locations. Hanging on the walls in Gritz Family Restaurant in McDonough are photos of the old city. Could some of my relatives be in these photos? The specific picture I examined was an aerial photo covering a huge swath of the town square.
Since my mother’s side of the family came from the McDonough and Flippen area, surely one of my relatives was out and about that day, talking with friends as they swatted big flies off their arms.
Maybe my grandmother was buying fabric in a department store. Maybe that fabric became one of the handmade quilts I own. Maybe. The photos show the buildings, but they don’t show what’s going on inside. So I can only imagine.
My favorite photos are those that depict buildings that are still standing. I look for a brick or a stone in the photo and try to find that exact brick or stone today. There’s continuity in this act. It says that time can’t steal everything from us.
Or, if time will eventually rob us of everything, at least some of our valuables are harder to carry away than others. Our memories are our most valuable possessions. They should erode slowly, like bricks and stone, but they don’t.
Yesterday, I was in downtown Atlanta, and I stopped at a red-light, by a building that housed a joint called One Eyed Jack’s, back long ago in my college days.
As I looked at the building, I remembered conversations and events from the past. I remember a fellow student fawning over the girl I was dating at the time. He hardly ever talked to me, but that night he was a chatterbox, cozying up to my date, being buddy-buddy with me.
I remembered this event from years ago, and I now realize I was comparing the building to a picture – one that I had snapped long ago, in my mind.
My mind told me, “You were right there. Don’t you remember? Look at the picture I took.”
Well, I remembered enough to say “Yes, I recall,” but a photo taken by the mind isn’t reliable. You can value it, and examine it, but you can’t hang a mental photo in a restaurant. Unlike a brick or a stone, it erodes much too rapidly.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Covington. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.