wander project images my father saw 9

Are memories the measure of a person? What we recall about someone, is that what makes them special to us? Or is there more to the world than what we recall? My father loved the outdoors. The following pictures today come from his folder Wildflowers #3. There are two more slide trays labeled Wildflowers. Later dad changed his organizational system for slides. It’s funny the evolution of how we store the pictures that hold tight to the memories with the click of a shutter. It is the depression of the shutter that locks the memory right? But is it? I ask myself that often, memories are more than pictures. They say, they were unknown, but if you listen they are always speaking, a picture is worth 1000 words. But whose words and what picture?

You see today I am sharing 15 or so of my father’s pictures. But the platform of the blog is limited to 3500 characters. Far less than the 15000 words the pictures deserve. Each picture is floating in cyberspace to wander to your browser. My father loved plants. I remember as a child going on walks with him, dad always leading the pack. Always in front of us. I never thought about that until just now. He was in front so he could stop and, in finest Latin speak the scientific names of flowers and plants that lie beside the path. Genus and family, carefully enunciated so that we could hear. The names in Latin are floating in the air the plants, and then sadly floating right out of my head.

I don’t remember the names. But I do remember the walks. I remember complaining. Every time, as we prepared to go outdoors. Dad ignored me for the most part. I suspect sometimes he got frustrated. He also never stopped, the names of the plants flowing long past the time of the walks. When I was an adult, living in another city. He would when I would visit, hand me book by an author on the great outdoors. I read every one of those books dad!

To end where I began the organizational system of the slides leaves me a reflective thought. The things a father finds important enough to pass to their child. Are they memories or are they a piece of us?


sunshine brings flowers but so does rain.

wander project what my father saw 8

I have film and pictures of Wisconsin Winters. It helped from time to time as I shelved the snow, to see well much more snow — these pictures were taken by father in various locations around Wisconsin. When I was a little kid, I used to love going to my grandparent’s house in the winter. They had this amazing hill that went all the way down to the Lake. By December the lake was frozen enough that you could drive a car across it (and many people did). We would fly down the hill on the toboggan. I also have my grandfather’s old films that he took when they first moved to Wisconsin back in the late 1940s. The snowfall that year was epic, feet of snow not inches.

They always measure snowstorms in inches not feet. When they start the storm forecast with 3 feet of snow, you begin to realize it is a serious snow storm. The folder the slides were in, or tray was called Winter. I would be based on the amount of snow in various pictures postulate that it represents some different days. It certainly, based on composition and content represents some locations. These are not warm pictures. They are cold pictures. Of course, the world around me now in the Maryland area is cold. I guess it is only fitting, although I suspect the wander to the warm project is going to take over fairly soon and I will post pictures of places that are warm!

I do miss a day of sledding and then some of grandpa’s hot cocoa. He always had the fun small marshmallows when he made hot cocoa! I remember as a kid, the adults would all have a drink at the end of the day. My grandmother, grandfather always having a High ball. Grandpa always made the grandkids a kiddie cocktail with a Maraschino Cherry in it! I remember feeling part of what was going on because of that. Childhood at times is all about the quest to be an adult. Then you realize when you are an adult that being an adult is all about the quest to return to childhood!

From an old film to old pictures, there was a lot of snow in Wisconsin. I remember waiting and wishing to there and be sledding. The memory of hot cocoa keeps me warm now!


sharing dad’s pictures

Wander project what my father saw

One of my favorite stories my father ever told me was also one of the shortest stories he ever told me. He told me many stories about growing on the Wisconsin River. Or he grew up near the river. He was able, on a bright, warm summer day to wander down to the river. I do not mean the creepy Saturday Night Live way of living in a van by the river. Rather the freedom of being able to just walk to the water. One of the stories dad used to talk about all the time was being the grocery delivery boy for the local grocery store. He still had the sign in our garage when mom and dad lived on the farm. It was in the garage we painted brown. I have no idea to this day why we painted the garage brown, but we did. Spent an entire IU Football game on the radio painting the garage.

If you want your groceries put away let dad do it. That was the message he always shared. The sign said as much. I wonder what happened to that sign now, all these years later. The farm is now gone more than 30 years. But the memory of that sign perched in the rafters of the garage is one that sticks with me. Not however the shortest story dad ever told about growing up in the Dells. Interesting by the by, that Amazon and Walmart offer in your house deliveries of food now. I suspect my wife would go crazy if someone else put things into her pantry and her refrigerator. She likes things a certain way. I guess that is why we don’t use that service.

The story that I remember the most about my dad growing in Wisconsin Dells was the summer he got a part job as Smokey the Bear. My father, my grandfather both loved the outdoors. The great biologist Aldo Leopold, was often in the Dells. His books focused on the magic of the flora and fauna of the Dells were probably part of my father’s inspiration to be a biologist. But the summer he wore the smelly bear suit and talked to children about forest fires and fire safety is one that sticks. I have read the books of Aldo Leopold, they are amazing. I have wandered the paths of the Dells. You can see them, the wooden trails that led into the magic that was the rock formations in some of today’s pictures. But the image of my dad in the Smokey the Bear suit, that one I cannot share. It is in my mind’s eye only.


my dad was a good photographer

wander project through my fathers eyes

The Wisconsin River, runs in the State of Wisconsin through pretty much the middle of the state, heading towards the Mighty Mississippi River.  I may have to put together a compilation of my father’s Wisconsin River pictures near the Dells, and my grandfather’s pictures of the same places. I know they were often out and put together, so many of the pictures were taken at the same time. But they also tended, the two of them, to go to the same places. Some of my favorite pictures of me when I was young are from around the Wisconsin River. I grew up loving water; I got that from both my parents. They loved water probably a lot more than I do.

The pictures today are of the river just a little outside Wisconsin Dells. My father was born in the hamlet that was Wisconsin Dells Wisconsin. His parents, at that time, lived in an apartment above my grandfather’s shoe repair store. There were always cousins and other family members at the house. My dad, however, was seldom at the house. Dad loved being outdoors more than anything. That continued to the end of his life. His love of gardening, of trees and of being outside is something I share part of. I love being outside, on the water, walking but the gardening thing is one I never really got. What’s funny is that my wife and I love to go boating.

Our twins, not-so-much with the boating thing, unless the boating is part of a video game.

There is a picture, as well in this batch of one of the old tour boats. I first remember riding on the Dell’s tour boats when I was five. I have vague memories of stopping, looking and riding on the boat. I may have ridden them before then, I had also ridden them when I was older. But the first time I remember I know I was small because my parents towered over me.

My biggest Dells memory remains getting fudge with my mother while everyone else was napping!


through my father’s eyes

Wander project, the snow!

Today back to pictures I took, but just for a day. These are of the Saturday/Sunday snow that we had in the DC area. The fun thing was watching the time-lapse weather camera (Bloomsky) as it was covered by snow! The labs were out in the backyard running around like the crazy dogs they are. They both love snow more than anything. Yesterday in the afternoon we wandered off on the Labs daily walk. They were in heaven; there was snow everywhere. How do you know a lab is excited? They don’t walk they bound. It’s funny to watch the two of them as they frolic in the snow. They are very different dogs most of the time. But they both react to snow pretty the same way. Neither is a young do anymore, but they are in the snow!

The Twins went out to shovel the driveway and the sidewalk. I won’t say they were happy about it. Not quite enough snow to get out the snow blower. So they got out the shovels and moved the snow by hand. We ended up going out early on Sunday relatively speaking. Normally on the weekends, we head out around 3:30. We ended up heading out a little before 3 pm. I was concerned that most of the sidewalks in our neighborhood wouldn’t be cleared, but they were. We had to slog through snow for a bit, but not as much or as bad as we’ve seen in the past. In the great blizzard of 2016, we had more than 36 inches of snow to deal with, the walk was tough.

This snow will take a huge hit today as it gets well above freezing. I will also go out and knock the snow off the Bloomsky. Still, if you want to see what a camera covered in snow sees, the link above is to my Yesterday’s Snarky Weather forecast. It is always provided the day after yesterday but I’ve been doing the broadcast for more than three years, and it has never been wrong about yesterday’s weather. The pictures shared today are before the snow shoveling, either by the twins or by the county. The plow came through our area around 11 am. The two main roads were pretty clear by the 3 pm walk. No real snow on the roads, the only bad parts of the sidewalk were the areas in front of people’s houses.


owner of the lonely mailbox

wander project things my father saw

I am continuing through my father’s eyes series with some pictures from California. First, if I may diverge from my message to a longer shared message, note the discoloration of the scanned pictures. Over time the composition of slides and pictures changes. The aging process is not kind to images. These images were all stored improperly and are more than 50 years old. The reality is that a huge percentage of the actual image is now gone forever. Not to mention the fact that the slides are more than 50 years old. My father went to California before I was born (I believe) to help his sister move back from California. It was a very difficult trip to my dad and his older sister for some reasons. My Uncle had killed himself. Dad helped his sister move back from California.

I don’t know a lot more about the story. It was a family tragedy that happened either before I was born, or when I was very little (less than a year). It is funny because your family has a history before your appearance. There are many things that happened before I was born that I have out about later in life. My mother always says “it’s your memory.” I suspect many of the stories that stuck with me later in life were told to me before then; they just weren’t sticky. Memories unlike children, have to be sticky. In fairness, children have to sticky as well, but for different reasons than memories. The memories of my aunt and cousins were of visiting my aunt at the end of her life, so my dad could say goodbye to his oldest sister.

We saw my Uncle years later when he and one of my cousins visited Bloomington. We saw my father’s younger sister often. She was a school teacher and a great influence in my life as was her husband my uncle. Memories that don’t directly involve you are hard to share. They aren’t by nature sticky unless there is a wonderful story that goes with them. My father told me of his sister teaching him photography. My aunt was an award-winning photographer. That moment was important to my father. I remember that one. That memory was sticky. The aspects of, the moments of and the memories around my father’s trip to California are lost to me. They should be there, just as the memories of my father’s father should be there. Perhaps they are, sticky, but hidden deep in the recesses of my mind.


using my fathers eyes to see

wander project my father’s pictures

Through my father’s eyes is a new series of blog posts. It has taken me a few years to be able to look at my father’s pictures without getting sad. It takes time to reconcile the memories. These pictures are from the Autumn of 1964. I would have been a little kid, and my sister was also on the scene. We were living in Chicago (I believe we had moved to Vernon Hills by then, but I am not completely sure). The pictures are of fall scenery. Dad loved to take pictures of fall leaves. It was a passion of his; I know that because there are some Autumn folders in the slide trays. I suspect these pictures were of something important. Dad captured moments that meant something to him over the years. However, I don’t know what these were off regarding importance.

My grandfather, my father’s father also took scenery pictures. His however were mostly of the Wisconsin River around Wisconsin Dells Wisconsin. I can, for the most part, figure out where on the river the picture was taken. From floods to snow Grandpa took pictures of the river. I suspect based on the dates; he has a pictorial study of the Wisconsin River from 1958 until they moved to Racine in the mid/late 1960s. It is funny sometimes when I consider the problem I have here. I know my father, he and I didn’t agree, but I knew him, I knew he was proud of me and often I knew what he felt about politics, ecology, teaching science and what was important to him intellectually.

I don’t however, understand some of the pictures dads took. Some are clear to me, loving pictures of his children and my mother. Loving pictures of signs in parks and along the road. Those I understand. But the ones that are hard for me are the ones I wasn’t around. Or, that I was too young to understand why the picture was important to dad. Through his eyes I see the world that he loved — my grandfather’s pictures, on the other hand, I have the reverse problem. I know the Wisconsin River was important to him. His loving study of that body of water speaks to me. The pictures of my grandfather’s that I don’t understand are the ones with people in them. Why were the people important, why then. Funny how when you look at what others find critical, you end up wondering if you understood in the first place.


through my father’s eyes