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PICTURE PAGES

Cindy Maddera

I started a project early this year that involved organizing my pictures into some kind of an album with notecards and descriptions. I did four pages and the set all of it in the roller cabinet under the TV. It's been sitting there ever since. Meanwhile, the pile of pictures that need to be organized just keeps growing. Sunday morning, I got up and went through my usual Sunday morning routine: breakfast, CBS Sunday Morning, laundry. Whenever I would settle into the couch with a mug a of coffee, I'd end up with animals laying on me. Not such a bad thing, but they made it difficult to want to move. It was raining and dreary outside and it was just easier to turn the couch into a raft and play a movie. So that's what I did, but I also pulled out the photo project and worked on it some while I watched the movie. 

I started with a stack of pictures I had found while cleaning out the attic of my childhood home. They had been in the bottom of a box lid that was inverted and holding old bits of notes and mostly trash. I started to just toss the whole lid into my garbage bag when I paused and decided to flip through the debris. I was surprised to find these particular pictures in with a pile of trash. There was an old picture of my Grandmother, Nellie with her sister and one of Pepaw in his Navy uniform. There were several old square black and white prints of my brother when he was a child and three photos from his wedding with Katrina. There was one of all of us sitting around the dining room table. My Dad's parents, Mom, Janell, Randy and Katrina. This was before J and it looked like Thanksgiving. I recognized the Pyrex dish of sweet potato pie and the tan Tupperware pitcher that I am sure was filled with sweet tea. The table was blanketed with the red calico tablecloth that always adorned that table. It is present in the picture of me blowing out candles on my third birthday cake, another picture from the stack of salvaged pictures.

Then I came across a picture of no people. There's nothing written on the back to hint at where or when the photo was taken. I took a photo of it for Instagram and my mother later commented on it saying that it looked like the lake Pontchairtrain Bridge. When she said it, I knew that she was right. I figured that someone had taken it the year we traveled to New Orleans for Randy's senior trip. I have no memories of that first trip to New Orleans. I was way too small to form lasting impressions. Not like Disney Land. I was small then too, but I still have hazy images in my head of the Dumbo ride and our odd encounter with Donald Duck. I only have memories of stories told to me of that family vacation. My mother tells a story of how she made me a harness with a leash so she could keep track of me. She said that some old man yelled at her and gave her grief about putting her baby on a leash. He followed her the length of the French Quarter Market before she turned around and yelled back at him to leave her alone. 

That's the only story I know from that trip. I remember coming across a picture of the my brother, sister and I posing next to a cannon. My brother is sitting in the photo, his long legs made longer by the bell bottom jeans he's wearing, and he has his arm wrapped around my middle. It is obvious he has been put in charge of holding the toddler still for the picture. I know this picture was taken in New Orleans only because at the time of finding the picture, my mother looked over my shoulder at it and said so. Yet the picture tells more of a story than that. I suppose that is why I am drawn to photographs. Each one tells more of a story than just "we were in New Orleans" or "that was the time we visited your great Aunt in California."

I suppose that is why I feel such a need to get my photographs and stories in order.