There aren’t a lot of pictures of my dad.
He was the family photographer. He was the one who documented his life, our lives, and the passing of time.
He had the camera. He took the photos. There weren’t many times that someone took a photo of him.
I took this one.
My dad’s photos – and he took thousands of them – were neatly sorted, by topic, and filed, along with their negatives, in big plastic boxes. Most included handwritten notes – sometimes written over the front of the photo – explaining who, or what, or when.
Tractors and wide fields of North Dakota wheat being harvested. And, pets. And, every house we ever lived in. And, flowers. And, squirrels. And, plenty of people I don’t know. And, cars.
(There are a few more photos of me, his daughter, than there are of the cars he has owned. But, it’s pretty close.)
When my dad died, over a decade ago, there was so much to do and so much to take care of, that I was overwhelmed by the photos and threw a bunch of them away. (Advice to future generations: do not throw away your father’s photos, no matter how many of them there are.)
How many photos of his ’46 Nash would I need in my life?
The correct answer is two.
This one …
And, this one …
When you’re an only child, the “family photo” is pretty small to begin with, but when your dad is also the family photographer, most of the family photos are just of me and mom. Or, just me. Or, just mom.
Here we are, disagreeing again.
This is, best I can tell, the only family photo that includes all three of us.
I’m the one in the middle. And, it appears that my dad is trying to stop me from running away.
I’m serious. That’s the only family photo of all three of us together that I have. I have no idea who took this photo and it’s entirely possible that my dad used a timer and a tripod to take it himself.
My mom took this one, one of only two or three photos of me and my dad together.
The California-born Baseball Bloggess, around age 6, in Lake Tahoe, touching snow for the very first time. If I seem horrified, I probably was.
Little did I know that just a few years later, we would move from California back to the North Dakota town where my parents grew up and where there is snow … constantly.
What would my dad want on Father’s Day? I think it would be this. He would want me to a) admit that it was short-sighted to throw out so many of his photos, and b) post some of the photos that I was smart enough to keep.
Oh, and he would want me to tell you one more important thing, which I will get to in just a sec’. But, first the photos …
1941 Ford. Snow courtesy of Devils Lake, North Dakota.
I told you there were a lot of photos of cars. And, snow. My dad turned 16 in 1941, so maybe that Ford was the family car. Or, it could have been a neighbor’s car. Or, it might have just gotten stuck in the snow.
After the hailstorm … a rainbow. My dad noted on the back that the local NBC news channel featured this photo on their weather forecast.
My dad took photos of all of the family pets, including this feral who just showed up on the farm one day.
I can’t tell you a thing about this chicken. I only know that I love this photo.
In 1988, part of my high school burned down. I had graduated nine years earlier and was working in Washington, DC by then. My dad called me that morning to tell me and then rushed to the school to take a photo. Because, he wanted to make sure I saw it. That’s the kind of dad he was …
There’s one more thing my dad would want me to tell you …
Don’t be too fast to toss out your father’s photos when he’s gone. Here’s why.
After my dad died, I started to go through the photos. I kept a lot, but, photos of the neighbor’s car and the neighbor’s cat? I had to draw the line.
Many were photos of his tractors that he had enlarged and framed. They hung over his desk. I kept those, because they were his favorites. (He would want me to tell you that they were John Deere tractors.)
He restored this old tractor until it looked — and ran — like brand new.
But, I just wanted the photos, not the wooden frames. Carefully, Editor/Husband and I peeled the photos out of their frames. And, hidden there behind one of the tractor photos was $300 in cash. I think he left it there for me.
Happy Father’s Day, dad. And, Happy Father’s Day to all the dads.