It has been an uber-busy week of adding entries to the anniversary memory book for my college graduating class. Deadlines have come and gone, and now the deadline is mine to proof the whole kit and caboodle before shipping it off to Otterbein’s print shop. I am working up to a great big WHEW!
The typing process has bombarded my brain to a frazzle of fonts and point sizes, not to mention the occasional edit. Thankfully, the pictures accompanying bygone campus tales and a half century of updates allowed me to pause for the occasional, welcome moment, free of technology concerns.
Among the several wedding pictures of 1970 flower-children brides and their boyish grooms transformed by life experiences into silver-haired grandparents, I discovered quite the unique photo. Almost regally, a widowed friend of mine sat amid her flock of children and a generation of greats and grands. For all the world, she reminded me of a grande dame from some past century, until I saw in her eye that irrepressible twinkle that made the intervening years simply fall away.
Somehow the darkish appearance of the photograph, with its sort of tintype quality, reminded me of quaint photos from yesteryear. I read somewhere that photographers back then instructed the subjects of their pictures not to move for sixty seconds. Since it was easier to hold a serious expression than a smile, dusty albums stored in attics and forgotten desk drawers are filled with pictures of grim-faced family members. In any case, I truly enjoyed my classmate’s modern, smiling family gathered in a picture that evokes such a charming vintage vibe.
Meanwhile, Facebook has me reveling once again in the traditions of a youthful springtime. In a release of pent-up celebration, proud parents and grandparents have been posting photographic glimpses into Easter egg hunts and high school musicals. There have been pictures of the sprints and vaults of track-and-field, as well as ones of batters, pitchers, and catchers of all ages on fields of dreams deferred last year. It is now prom season, and proper commencement exercises await on the late spring horizon, when the entire Class of 2021 will congregate for one last time.
When I use the word picture, I am also including what folks once called moving pictures. Right in the middle of typing a memory book submission more than twice the requested length, I stopped to watch – probably for the twentieth time – Erin Brockovich in its entirety. I love Julia Roberts’ gritty portrayal of the real-life
environmental activist, and it is somehow calming to re-enjoy a story I know well enough to quote huge hunks of its dialog. Refreshed, I fired up my computer again and settled down to further fussing and formatting.
As much as I appreciate a good film, however, these days I feel out of step with the latest cinematic efforts from the show biz folks in Hollywood and beyond. Of the eight films vying for the Best Picture Oscar last month, I recognized just one title, The Trial of the Chicago 7 – probably because I lived through the actual events more than fifty years ago.
Thus, I fall back on a repertoire of favorite flicks outdated enough to show up again and again on my TV. In fact, a FB friend recently posed this question: “Which movies listed on the program guide will you always stop to watch?” My responses are many. I can lose myself in the breathtaking photography of Out of Africa, not to mention the complicated relationships of Karen Blixen, Denys Finch Hatton, and Bror Blixen brought to life by Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, and Klaus Maria Brandauer. I will continue to cry my way through The Way We Were, when lasting love eludes Barbra Streisand and Redford (again). I am a goner when Mr. Holland’s former music students play his Opus to honor him in retirement, likewise when an almost down-and-out Will Smith pursues Happyness right into the upper echelons of the business world. And following the little country school basketball team in Indiana to state tournament victory is pure entertainment: Hoosiers – the students, the townspeople, the coach, the love story – is not broadcast often enough for my liking.
A similar FB request: “Post a movie quote that gives away the movie without mentioning the title.” My responses: You make me want to be a better man. / Why didn’t he tell me I had a brother? / Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary. / Hope is a good thing, maybe the best thing, and no good thing ever dies. / Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire. The pictures of a fine film can in no way replace its script but are enhanced by meaningful dialog. By the way, the picture shows quoted include: As Good as It Gets / Rain Man / Dead Poet’s Society / The Shawshank Redemption / Schindler’s List.
This week the Big Proofread will continue to conclusion. I hope my classmates will enjoy perusing our memory book as much as I enjoyed putting it together – unencumbered by annoying typos and punctuation gaffes, of course. But as time consuming and fiddling this labor of love and class spirit has been, every story, every recollection, every moment described in words has created a nostalgic picture of the four years we spent together in a quiet, peaceful village so very long ago.