1) All this time cases of ye Kodychrome slides taken by my uncle (and my grandfather?) have been languishing in their original cases. I remembered vague glimpses of July Fourth parades in New Jersey (where Mother's family lived before coming to Lago di Carlo) and portraits of my grandparents' friends, but not much else. I determined that this trip I would delve into the slides at some point.
1a) This was also prompted by the knowledge that Mother is the only one left who would know the people pictured, and she's 88 years old. In early July, 1983, one night at Gramma's I suddenly said "Gramma, let's get out that linen photo of your mother's family!" Why I should have suggested that I cannot explain - just an impulse. And we got out the beautiful sepia photo on linen of her mother's family, the Wondras, when her mother was a young woman. Gramma identified everyone, and I typed out the names on her Royal typewriter. By the end of the month, Gramma had died.
2) Yesterday evening's news was so depressing I didn't know how I could focus on anything, but I managed to focus on the slides. First I took down the cases, and I'll confess I was daunted by the number of slides. I hadn't remembered so many!
3) Then the question of how to view them. I'd remembered a two-slide viewer (very much like an old-fashioned magic lantern machine), and it was there with the cases. But as soon as I started to plug it in the outlet sparked! Prominently! And I thought "I am just too busy to burn down the house tonight." So back into the closet went that.
3a) The search then was on for Daddy's old carousel slide projector, and I had JUST found it at the top of the front hall closet when Mother came from the guest room with a single slide viewer that had been Uncle Bill's. Perfect!
3b) Perfect except that, somehow in the intervening years, gold glitter (!) had infiltrated and speckled the glass, which added some black spots when viewing. Oh well . . .
4) Uncle Bill had organized everything meticulously (which was his way). I started with a group labeled "Family," all strangers to me, and all seemingly cousins from Minnesota - a reminder that I really know only half my heritage. Growing up my mother's family was ONLY Gramma and Uncle Bill. The rest were all up North, and my sister and I didn't meet them until we were teenagers. (Of course, if you've ever met the Dimmicks or the Evanses en masse there is no other family and you are instantly part of it.)
5) Then I think there was a group labeled "Personal," and at the end there were three slides of ME. (See above.) I had never seen these before.
6) So many of these images were labeled with vacation destinations that I felt I could pass them over. "Christmas 1956" yielded a treasure trove of images from a Christmas Eve when my Dimmick grandparents still lived on Kirkman Street (a house I never knew). It's surprising to see photos of people you know looking younger than when you knew them. I don't mean the difference from child to adult (I was able to recognize my cousins, all now in their sixties, easily as children) but from older to younger adult. There was my Aunt Betty, there Granny, etc. etc. - so unmistakable, and yet so different.
7) But I hit the jackpot with the small group labeled "Dimmick Thorson Wedding." 'OH MY GOD, MOTHER, COME HERE! IT'S YOUR WEDDING!" I'm very familiar with my parents' wedding album, which is all black and white. Seeing color photos - and such color! - knocked my socks off.
8) Wonderful photos at the church, of the receiving line, of the reception (the cake so white, the punch so very orange), of the rehearsal dinner. I did a double take to recognize my Grampa Dimmick looking over his shoulder at the table. It was so wonderful to see these!
9) Mother retreated to bed, and as I continued to explore I found a group labeled "Intimates." Well, that could mean anything, but I'd remembered Mother telling me years ago that her father had some cheesecake slides of "artist's models" that he'd work into his slide shows - and that it didn't please Gramma when he did that. And whaddya know, the first five or six were cheesecake girls. The rest were photos taken at a party, with several of the guests posing in front of a wall surrounded by pinup girl photos (!). Whaaaaaaat?!
9a) And then Mother said "And we have those pinup photos in the guest room closet!" I haven't gone to look . . . yet.