Today I go back to the Erie County Home to load up the items I purchased at the recent Auction in the facility. It should prove to be interesting because by now many of the items that were in the facility and gave it character are gone. I’ll try to get some images of the skeleton, but for now I’m remembering what was.
It goes without saying that us humans are amazing creatures…even if it is in our own minds. One of the unique aspects of us is our desire to capture images that convey meaning to the person doing the image. Typically the meaning for the individual is to have a souvineour or picture that they can use to remember where they were, what they did, who they met, who they love, etc. Often it is their desire to use or share that image with a larger audience. They use it to provide color when they tell a story, brag about something, be a work of art, etc. One sad fact about most images is that after the individual(s) in it or who took it passes away the verbal story and rich emotional meaning of the image is lost forever.
We saw this at the Home in what used to be the patient property room. In these rooms there were still suitcases, boxes and items left in the rooms. On top of one stack was the very large, framed wedding pictures of a couple in what appeared to be the 1950’s. They were aestetically beautiful but lacked the color and emotional meaning they would have imparted had they been family or someone we had known. Instead there was an emptiness…a sense of loss and despair we had thinking about how these items would probably be disposed of in the coming days.
Our consumer research work on digital imaging years earlier informed us not only of the reasons and joys we find in taking images but also in the sad fact that the vast majority get lost, destroyed or forgotten. All of our research participants expressed the saddness that is brought on when photos are lost. It is like “losing your memory” my boss and owner of a global company told me. He had the sad experience of thieves ransacking his house years prior to our study. No money or valuable were taken. However, the intruders had a more malicious intent and took the one thing they knew he couldn’t replace…pictures and video of his family.
Looking back at my 18 years or employment at the Home I realized I have no pictures of myself at the facility that I can think of. That is not to say there are none, but if there are they are only a few prints in boxes since those were the days before digital. Thanks to my wife I now have a few since she took some of me at the Erie County Home. What I put here are very meaningful and certainly bring back zillions of rich memories I thought I had lost. It helped me remember my ‘path’ to now. I gained a deeper appreciation of the people I worked with. The images also helped me understand ‘me’ more and share a bit more with my wife … and now you!
Moral of the story? Protect your images and pass the tradition on to your children.