pictures of me

Paul in hospital

Or just one picture of me. Yes, that little boy in the hospital gown is me, more than half a century ago. And that’s my father with the Brilliantine in his hair. (Apparently that was how it was done in those days.) I have no memory of this, but my mother tells me that I had pneumonia severe enuf to get me hospitalized. (I don’t look too bad in the photo.)

One of my Fathers and Sons stories (now my One-Match Fire stories) has the grandson find a photo of his father as an infant with a caption on the back saying he is healthy again. His father, of course, has no memory of that time in his life, so the son can’t know what sickness he had. That one photo eventually steers the course of the grandson’s life (though he doesn’t realize it at the time).

I had completed the draft of that story and only then (consciously) remembered that this photo of me existed. Then I was on the hunt for it. If it existed any longer at all, it would be in one of the few photo albums my mother kept when she moved out of my boyhood home in St. Louis. She lives in Kentucky now, and while I had asked her to look for it, she said she tried and had no luck. But when I was down to see her on Mother’s Day, I combed through the albums and found the photo literally in the last one left.

I’m glad I have this photo. When my daughter was here last week, she scanned it for me (much better than the scan I tried to do at work), and now it’s in the digital universe. I’m also pleased to understand how it became part of the stew that makes up my creative self.

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