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Old Photos Spark Memories

It's so easy for me to get sidetracked whenever I'm looking for something, especially when the distraction is a pile of old photos. Each photo brings back memories. And from there, it snowballs until I can't remember what I was looking for in the first place.


For example, earlier this week I needed something (still can't recall what it was), and in the process of searching for it, I ran across some old photos. There weren't many of them, but it was just enough to get the old memory machine cranking.


Uh-oh! Before I knew it, I'd spent an hour pouring over those pictures, recalling memories, and never finding whatever it was I had set out to find.


I might as well share a few of the photos and the memories they sparked with you, my readers. You're probably already distracted from whatever it was you came online to find.


The first photo that distracted me was an aerial shot taken before the invention of drone cameras. It is of Salem Baptist Church. Running along the foreground is Fort Sumter Road, on which was our house about a half-mile to the right. The road running vertically along the left side was named, appropriately, Salem Church Road. Just out of the photo to the left of Salem Church Road was my great grandparents' place. Harvey and Lula Belle Graybeal donated the land for the members of Salem to build their church and contain their cemetery. The oval-shaped parcel behind the church is where my parents, Ralph and Hazel, are buried. Although my parents were never members of Salem, I recall attending Vacation Bible School and revival services there when John Holland was the pastor.


Next, there's one with my Uncle Dillon and Aunt Dorothy. Some of you might remember Dillon because later in life he delivered many people's mail in the Heiskell community.


My attention was captured immediately by this photo because Dillon is the subject of my upcoming (I sure do hope and pray that one day soon it will be released by the publisher!) book Dillon's War. The photo was taken, the margin says, sometime in July 1955, about seven or eight years after he returned from service in World War II Europe.


Crouching on the ground in front of Dillon is my brother Dale, 5 years and 2 months old. On the left in Dillon's lap is our cousin Gary Lynn Standifer. On the right in Dillon's lap, totally distracted by the two passing dogs whose names I never knew, is yours truly.


Behind us in the distance, one can see a freight train crossing the trestle over Raccoon Valley Road. Decades later, Dillon would die of a heart attack along those tracks.


Another distracting photo was one of three-fourths of the Halls High School two-mile relay team. Missing from the photo is Dale Wayland, who ran either the first or second leg of our races. Taking the baton from Dale (or was he giving it to him?) was David Hansard, standing on the left. Either Dale or David handed off the baton to me for the third leg. I'm the bespectacled bean pole standing on the right. (My doctor asked me what my weight goal was, and I told him 145 lbs., what I was in this photo. He just laughed. "That's not going to happen!" he declared with assurance. Somehow, I think he's right.)


But the one who made our team as good as it was due to his skills as the anchor man was Johnny "Flash" Hamel, kneeling in the front. Although he was the shortest guy on the team, his legs drove like pistons in a souped-up racing engine as he brought us to the finish line. We all won our letter jackets in our second year together. The photo brings back a lot more memories, but those are for another place and time.


The last photo to distract me is of our four daughters, and all I can say is, "Boy! Time surely flies!"


It's hard to believe that those little girls are almost all (the lone exception being our baby) now in their forties and beyond. From left to right, they are Elissa, No. 2; Rachelle, our firstborn; Tisha, No. 3; and Stacy, No. 4. Now I still see them at this stage of their lives when I look at their children, my grandchildren. Elissa has two, Rachelle three, Tisha three, and Stacy--well, she has three dogs.


I enjoyed my side trip down memory lane, but I sure do wish I could remember what I was looking for when those photos distracted me!

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