Monday, August 17, 2009

Us, Holding up or Posing by Dead Things

There are many pictures of all five of us siblings and at this point even several grandchildren all posing for pictures by dead things. We may or may not be holding or helping to hold some dead things up. Although this sounds potentially very creepy, the dead things were usually fish, fowl, or had fur. Our father (or grandfather to some subjects) is the perpetrator. I am not sure why, exactly, it was necessary to take pictures of our children or us by these dead things. I somehow suspect that while desiring a visual documentation or record of the hunt, it was and still is more acceptable for Dad to do so by morphing it into a family picture at the same time. It makes for many family pictures that will never be enlarged and proudly displayed in the living room.

The obvious problem with all of these photos is the subject matter. Pictures of loved ones are good; pictures of them with dead game, not so much. You can see why this would be the case. Let’s look at a hypothetical conversation of me sharing family photos with my children:

“Here’s an old photo of Grandpa, Uncle ED, Aunt Hipee, and you with dead geese all laid out on the ground in front of you. Why are guys always by some dead animal? And you always look so happy about it, too.”

“Well, Grandpa wanted a picture… you know Grandpa.”

"I still remember when we'd hear that Grandpa was out hunting and would be coming over sometime with a dead turkey for us to pose by. It was like he's stop by with his dead turkey, Wonder Boy and I would go and pose by it with him, and you would take the picture, forever immortalizing the deceased turkey's remains. Then Grandpa would leave as quickly as he came, with his dead turkey in tow . . . Man! Is that Aunt Hipee holding up a dead duck? Goodness. “

“Yes. Hipee wasn’t too whippy back in those days.”

“You all look demented, like all of you need help."

“It was the sixties.”

“"I thought that the sixties were supposed to be fun, carefree lighthearted times - who's that?"

“That’s my uncle, your Grandpa’s twin. He passed away before you were born.”

“ . . . why are you all standing underneath a bunch of dead fish?"

"It must have been a good day of fishing and Grandpa needed a record of it. We are all happy and smiling. Look at this one.”

"Oh, goodness, bunnies! Why bunnies!? Why does Grandpa look so happy about it?"

“Grandpa is no fan of rabbits. They eat his garden. Obviously he’s never read Watership Down or Peter Rabbit and felt any empathy for the bunnies.”

"I think a little part of me just died. Is there any group pictures of you guys without the theme of death and decay?"

“Not too many.”

"I bet that was fun for you."

“Well, you know, he’s a good grandpa. He just has that one little problem. You enjoyed going out hiking with him, looking for turkey sign.”

"Yeah. I remember the one time we went hiking, and I had been at the back, following Wonder Boy and Grandpa. One of grandpa's footsteps had uncovered a deer's ribcage. I called everyone over. It was fascinating. Grandpa took off the head and when we got back, he made it talk to you."

“Yes, I remember that very clearly. Try as I might, it would be hard to forget.”

“Whoah, look at those froggies! They're all dead.”

"Grandpa wanted us to try frog legs."

“I thought you grew up living in cities? You people were all kinda going natural there, weren't you? Were you some kind of early survivalists?”

“No, well, sort of. We always lived in cities, but Grandpa grew up on a farm and his family was very poor. You had to get game for your family to eat. He just never forgot that and he enjoys being outdoors. Look, at least we never ate raccoon, possum or squirrel… at least not to my knowledge.”

"The pictures were just kind of a bonus then, weren't they?"

“No… yes… I think grandpa wants to record the good day and so he takes pictures of what he caught along with those he loves.”

“Why isn’t Grandma in any of these pictures?”

“Someone had to hold the camera and I imagine she was quick to volunteer.”

"You were never in the pictures with dead turkeys with Wonder Boy and I. You wouldn’t join us, even when I asked."

“Yes. I had already had a lifetime of turkey pictures. It was your turn. Be thankful you’re older now and can offer to be the camera person.”

I know for a fact that my Dad recently had a picture taken with his fishing buddies – and a whole bunch of fish. He was planning to take it along to the various retired-men-who-go-for-coffee-time places he frequents.

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