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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Knowing Them ~ Pondering

This is going to be one of those 'pondering' posts.  The photos may not excite you either!
So...here's the thing...
Among my mother's photos I found this little packet in their envelope from the developing lab.  When I opened it up, what I found surprised me.  Each picture showed a particular place in the Northern Nevada town I had lived in when I was first married.  We were married up there, both of my children were born up there.  I lived there five years.
But it was a lifetime to my heart.  It was...and is a very special place. 
It's one of those places I return to in my mind's eye...over and over again.
Do you know those kinds of places?  I've written about them before.  They are the places that are so connected to your very core that words would never be adequate to explain them...or the deep connection to them.  They are you.

My daughter said it well once, as only a child could do.  She was seven at the time and had been living away from her birthplace since she was 8 months old.  Of course she'd gone back there on vacations.  But, really by the age of seven, I could probably count on one hand how many times she's been there.  Well, one day she and her brother were in the living room and out of the blue she says, "I want to go home."  Her brother, a very different sort than her, a boy of 'facts'...looked at her and said, "You are home!"
It was at this point that she replied, "No, to Gardnerville.  I left my heart there."
And so that is how it has been for her, and me too.  Our hearts have belonged to this beautiful valley in northern Nevada.  The Carson Valley.

But, this is not the whole of today's story.  Because as I looked at the photos in the envelope, I realized that my parents also had a love affair with this special place.
The photos are stamp-dated 1987 on the back.  But, that would be about 3 or more years after we'd moved away.  So, did they get printed at a later date?  Did they take a trip back up there while I was living life in Southern California?  If so, why?  Why would they go there when I was no longer there?  Later, my dad would build a speculation house up there.  But that was 1993, so that does not fit either.  I know I will never have the answer...the story of how these photos came to be.  But. I am so intrigued by the mystery of it.  My parents as a couple with their own story, history....

I think I know some of the stories of why each of these locations were photographed, because they were special to all of us.   But, they are long, involved, tangled...ineffable really.  And way too wordy...even for me!

Around Town

So, I'll just tell you one or two things and you can make up the rest!
In the photo above, starting on the top left and working clockwise:  the tri-plex we lived in, the only big grocery store in town, the one casino in town (BTW- that is the corner that got the first stoplight in town while we lived there!), the mom & pop grocery store I could walk to from my house (and did on many occasions), the view of the 'hay pile' and the Sierras from my front yard, next to the hay pile was a 100 year old barn.

Carson Valley 9 Patch
 Again, starting at the top left, rows top to bottom: a view of the baseball field at the park in town, outside of Bridgeport, CA - the 'worm man', the irrigation ditch behind our place (AKA 'the volcano'),
second row: the ducks/geese at the park, the yummy pizza place, another shot of the volcano.
Bottom row: the ducks/geese at the park, the local McDonalds, a view of the Carson Valley

A Long View

The whole group and the envelope.

I see these pictures and feel all of the stories captured through the day to day living. 

My dad was fascinated with the 'worm man'...whoever it was that lived on this empty stretch of highway and sold worms to passerbys.  Who was that?  Why right there on that curve in the road?  Could you really make a living selling worms from highway 395?

The ducks/geese at the park that my parents would take my young son to feed.

The big deal it was when a McDonalds was built and how my son would ask in his two year old voice for a "burger, no pickles, no onions".

The expanse and pastures of the Valley.  The cattle.  The hawks. The Sierras on one side and the Pinenut Mountains on the other.

The great grocery store Raley's, which carried everything.  Thankfully, as the next big store was 25 minutes up the highway.  My parents thought this was the best store ever and they did not have them in Southern California.

Sharkey's Casino the home of the giant prime rib specials...and oh, sigh...so much more.

The pizza place that had good food and a family friendly setting and pricing!

Miller's Market...with it's real butcher department...and not too many choices, but enough to fill a bag or two and take back home in my son's stroller.

Our tri-plex, with the small fence my ex and his brother built so my young son could safely play out front.  My dad had to scoot around that fence many a time as he would pitch my son a fat plastic baseball and my son would hit it right out!  Bam!

The volcano, so named by my son for a reason only he knew!  My dad would walk him over there in his little red Radio Flyer wagon so my son could throw rocks in the water.  The volcano is long gone...as are many of these other sights, including the 'hay pile'.
My son named this too and pronounced it with a 'y' for the 'l'...as it took him forever to be able to say the 'l' sound.  He loved to climb there and throw rocks (he was big on that).  He loved to visit the horse Biscut who lived in the barn and watch for the hot air balloons that would land in the pasture.  From inside the house, we would hear the loud woosh of the propane and he would call out "Yook, Yook, a bayoon, a bayoon"  Which for those of you who don't speak the language was, "Look, look a balloon, a balloon!!"  This just broke my dad up and he joked about it til...til forever.

So, you can see that the pure volume of stories is bottomless!  I tried to stick to shared stories, since my folks took these pictures.  I have millions of photos and stories that stood alone, away from them.
But since this was a post about how my folks felt the need to capture this place, I'll stop here with these shared stories.  And I'll continue to wonder what they talked about, joked about, shared...what traditions they had of their own as they moved through this place I had always considered mine, or ours at best.
To find out in yet another way that your parents are/were their own people, independent of you is always an eye-opener.


Photos by Nancy A. Erisman ©2013

18 comments:

Ms. said...

Oh my dear--I am all tuckered out from just finishing my own post. I'm saving this lovely offering for tomorrow when my eyes can focus again.

Nancy said...

Posting for Deanna (I deleted it by mistake!):
what a wonderful find. and maybe someday you'll think of something you had forgotten that will make the year fit in place. i love looking at pics that show the place i lived growing up and remembering stories the pictures tell even though there are no words.

Nancy said...

Michelle~ Yes, rest your eyes! I'll head over your way tomorrow too :)

Deanna~ I do too and there are so many stories! It's funny how much I remember from youth...but ask me about 1990 or yesterday and forget it!!

Marti said...

We lived in Sacramento for many years and trips to Lake Tahoe, Carson City, Reno,(great Basque restaurant there, Louis Basque Corner) and of course Sharkeys: where as you waited for that melt in your mouth prime 470rib, your senses got a jolt from the adornments on the walls...thanks for the memory Nancy.

saskia said...

it does take me by surprise now and then to realize my parents had a life before and after me! haha
wonder what our boys will make of us once they move out...
I don't look at photo's from my past a lot, they flood my mind and body with all kinds of memories, some happy some not so, my life is crowded enough.
But I'm glad you shared yours here and when you're trying to remember a place or a person it doesn't matter if the pics are good, they jog your memory and to me these photo's offer a glimpse of someone else's life and what they thought was worth portraying, interesting post Nancy, thank you. I'm not sure I've been able to express myself properly, but there you go, my thoughts are like a nine-patch too

Ms. said...

"No, to Gardnerville. I left my heart there."--Oh THAT was a prize! I've read through twice now and am also flooded with personal memories of my own past places and parents. I've been writing about that in story snippets too...over time, many stories. Still no one that I want to tell as complete. We are containers for the stories, for the past, and our 'hearts' actually never get left anywhere but within our ribcage, and lodged too in our long memories. It is lovely that you are gathering them and can share that with family and friends. Like Deanna, you are journaling a life story.

Peggy said...

Hi Nancy, I'm thinking what a nice gift you've been given -- happy memories, writing & sharing, even intrigue! Could they have been taken earlier and not developed until 1987? xo

Nancy said...

Marti~ Oh, so you know this beautiful place!! I actually worked at Sharkey's for a few weeks when I was first married, busing tables! Ha. Sharkey sold it some years back and I did not know. When I was there with my boyfriend I took him in so he could be amazed and all of Sharkey's collection was GONE!!! I was so sad. The place hadn't aged well!

Saskia~ yes, a life without us! What surprised me most was their love of this place...My place! I agree, quality does not always matter. All my memeories are not happy either, but they are a part of my life, of me.
"worth portraying"...you express yourself very well :)

Michelle~ Yep...that's my girl! Story snippets - I like that! Containers very full I might add :)

Peggy~ I thought of that, not developed when taken...but that would be very out of character for my mom!

handstories said...

it's great that you are putting this all down for you and your kids.
i want to go home, too.

Nancy said...

Cindy~ Yes, definitely for me...I need to get these stories out of me. Time will tell what my kids need!

Els said...

Oh Nancy, you sure had a trip along Memory Lane ....
And thank you for your lovely words on my blog ! much appreciated !

Nancy said...

Els~ Nice to see you here :) I've been traveling memory lane a lot recently!

saskia said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Q9WZtxRWieM

hi Nancy, I hope this is useful, the url I copied from AFP's you tube video, hi from Saskia

Nancy said...

Saskia~ Oh Thank You!!! I'll check it out :)

Nancy said...

Saskia~ Thank You!! I'll check it out :)

patricia said...

power full power full post. i've been trying to sign up--will try again.

patricia said...

trying again to post--this is a test

Nancy said...

Patricia~ You're here! Yay! I have comment moderation turned on, so I have to hit 'publish' before you will see it here. I'm so glad, grateful that you have persisted. It's nice to hear from you.
It was a powerful realization when I came upon the photos.