This is an unprecedented (on this blog) next-day posting. If you’re an occasional visitor, don’t miss yesterday’s entry! I’m about to head Stateside for summer break, and I expect there will be more lulls coming. So I’m taking this opportunity to post while I have the Internet connection.
I have here seven old photos that all belong on this blog — now, I guess, is as good a time as any. If I don’t survive the trip — a possibility that’s always in my mind when I travel — our lives are in God’s hands — then this will serve as a fitting farewell. But chances are good I’ll be bending your ears again soon, so don’t start mourning me yet.
These first two photos reveal my personality like none others ever taken. This is me. The Dreamer and the Imp. They were taken in the early 1970s behind The Book Center, my parents’ bookstore. I was out in back playing one day, wandering around in my daydreams and jiggling the little piece of rope I always carried (like Linus carries his blanket). Our good friend and landlord for the business, the gentleman who owned the photography studio next-door to our store, came out with his camera. (Out of respect for him, I won’t say his name here, but those of you to whom his name would mean something know who he is — I met him about two years ago in a restaurant, and he was still doing fine. And he brought up the little piece of rope, which he’s never ceased to wonder about. . . .) Anyway, he asked me to put my elbows on the hood of my parents’ car and look that way, now look this way, click, click. And here we have the results. Pretty cool, huh?
This next one was taken in June 1970, even farther back. That’s my mom’s Volkswagen Bug — you can actually see my mom sitting in the driver’s seat. That’s me at the front end. Nice haircut, huh? That may have been the time that Mom really did put a bowl on my head and cut off any hair that stuck out past the rim of the bowl. I think Mom pulled a Tom Sawyer that day: she told me and my cousins Charley and Bobby how much fun it would be to wash her Volkswagen. Something else to notice here: the stable next door hadn’t been built yet — nor had the house beyond it. This is the landscape I grew up with: that towering, unbroken oak forest all across the southern horizon, a great cliff of trees, green and mighty and ancient. We’ve looked into the history of the region, and it’s pretty well established that the young Abraham Lincoln, then a circuit-riding lawyer, would have passed along on his horse not far from where this picture was taken. He was riding from the long-vanished town of Allenton to the new, burgeoning community of Taylorville, his last stop on the 8th Judicial Circuit. The road in his day may very well have lain exactly where our tar-and-gravel road lies today — and the trees in this picture are old enough that Lincoln would have seen them as he trotted past. So there you are.
Next, me in high school, circa 1983 (?), dressed as the Tom Baker Doctor Who. That’s a yo-yo in my hand. This must have been for some event during Homecoming Week. No, we didn’t have a “Dress as Doctor Who” day — it was probably something like “Hat Day,” and when they gave me an inch, I took a mile. Later, we got a copy of the official pattern for his scarf from the BBC, and my mom, bless her bless her, knitted it for me! That scarf (the official one, not the one shown) is so long that it goes around my neck with the loop hanging down past my knees, and then both ends hanging down to just about my ankles. I still have it — in some later year it was slightly damaged by mice, but it’s safely stored now.