27 December 2010

Marie's Camera

While visiting the in-laws last week (for the first time in months! it was fantastic to see them!), I noticed an older model 35mm NikonF. My in-laws have a general fondness for their digital camera, but neither David nor Mary were, to my knowledge, all that interested in photography. So when I saw a gigantic lens to go with the Nikon, I was even more confused.
But it turns out that David's mother, Marie, was a very interested in photography. We found a receipt in her papers for a camera dated 1948: she paid $208 (which translates to $1,909 in 2010 dollars). The Nikon F was released in 1959, and she must've upgraded around then.

As a family history nerd, this kind of thing normally makes me giddy: my great-grandfather's saw, for example. But I know very little about Shaun's grandmother (she died when he was in college). I know she was extremely frugal, and did not have an easy life. She raised six children without indoor plumbing until the youngest was at least in junior high school. She was not, as I understand it, terribly sentimental, an attribute I tend to attach to everyone in my past, because I am so very sentimental myself. And so, holding her camera, which she took very good care of (she saved the instruction booklet it came with, and had a fine leather case for the camera and her multiple lenses) felt very strange. This woman's grandson is my husband: my daughter is genetically 1/8 her. (Well, mathematically. Or something. I don't know enough about genetics to just leave that sentence unattended). But I just discovered she was a photographer last week. I've never seen one of her photographs, or eaten cookies made from her favorite recipes. I don't know her from anyone. But she raised the man who would raise the man I would marry. It sort of breaks my brain.

I took all the photos in this post on Wednesday, 23 December 2010 with Marie's Nikon F. The camera is over 50 years old, and the original owner has been dead well over a decade. The film was terribly outdated: I found it among the receipts in the camera bag, and loaded it carefully. I had no idea if any of them would turn out.
I never knew her, but I'm grateful, even for just these four photos, and an inter-generational connection I never expected on this gray December day.

1 comment:

Charlotte said...

Way cool!