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Take Past, Add Present, Get Misty
I used to be rigid about the accumulation of things I don’t need. Lately, though, I am relenting. I go soft at the knees for rusted farm tools, a mason jar of old unmatched buttons, a set of slightly bent tins saying “flour” “salt” and “coffee.” I buy this stuff without thinking at garage sales or weekend markets. It makes me long for the countryside I never grew up in—barns to coleslaw.
Last week I tried to take home—no joke—an old, dead stump. A man had cut down his tree and was giving away the 3-foot tall stump. It weighed about 100 pounds. I tried to carry/roll/drag it to the car. My husband watched me. He felt embarrassed. So did I. Worse, I lied to him, loudly, so that other people would hear me and think I was a normal person. “We can make a lamp out of it!” I said.
“It’s a stump,” my husband said.
“It’s like a rope swing without the swing!” I said.
“Think about it this way,” he said. “It’s history.”
We left the stump on the side of the road. As we should have. Because I needed another way to indulge my nostalgia for the past I never had. Luckily, I found such a place. It’s called dearphotograph.com.
Each week, Taylor Jones, the founder of the site posts one new picture from the past held up to a picture of the present. He got the idea from a real-life situation. “I was sitting at my kitchen able with my mom, dad and two younger brothers,” he says, “We were looking a photograph of us all sitting in the exact the same spots. And I thought—wow!”
He snapped the new picture of the old picture—and a site was born. Six weeks later, 3.5 million have visited the site and Jones is shopping a book deal.
Along with the photographs within photographs are one or two-line letters written by the submitter that illuminate the subjects. “I wish I could still have a lemonade stand” writes one submitter. “Dad always had the comfiest shoulder” writes another. But many others are more painful—for example, this one where the grieving husband wrote "Thank you for everything we had."
Today, as I sift through the posted pictures of front door steps and sledding hills, of kitchen tables and corners of downtown small town America, I find myself so moved...in more than ways than one. When I look back—not just at my own history, but at the big universal timeline—am I looking for honey-dripped home decorations or more nuanced truths? There is a place for both, I'm sure. But what I'd like to take away from dear photograph is a reminder to consider the real people behind the romance, the people determinedly smiling, waiting for click.
Please note that Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities have no affiliation with and do not endorse those entities, projects, or websites referenced above, which are provided solely as a courtesy. You should conduct your own independent investigation before using the services of any such entities, projects, or websites. Information is provided for your reference only.