Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Picture Marks the Occasion

My dad came of age in the 1950’s. Sure there were cameras then but they were simple black boxes with salad plate flashes. Images taken were burned onto a section of film. Once a couple dozen shots were taken the roll of film was removed from the black box and taken to the local drug store. They processed the film and turned each shot into a slide. That slide, about one inch square, could only be viewed using a slide projector. The whole process could take weeks, never knowing if any of the pictures were even worth a damn until they were all loaded up in a projector. Queue up 50 plus slides, turn off the lights and force people to sit through slide after slide of the summer road trip from Utah to Arizona. Hm, half of them are out of focus!? Crap!

It was better than picture taking from the turn of the century, when it took an hour just to set the camera up and I think the flash was gunpowder (?). My point is, before the digital age, taking a picture was usually an event in and of itself and so was reserved for marking important occasions, transitions or documenting the unusual. Dad grew up at the tail end of that mindset. He certainly took countless pictures in his lifetime and we have the slides to show it, many of them are actually in-focus. But for all the things he did and places he went and occasions that certainly warranted the documentation of a photograph there is a conspicuous lack of them. 

Cycling was one of those things. He logged over 50 years of serious riding and thousands upon thousands of miles and yet I did not have a single picture of him and a bike. Not one. Until now! Once again, my brother Ken comes through. I don’t know where he got this from or who took it but here he is in Colorado with the TREK carbon fiber bike (the one he later traded in for the 3-wheeled recumbent). 

Notice the snow in the background (I’ve read in cycling magazines that some people actually put their bikes away for the winter). He was 70 in the picture, already had his stomach removed, nearly blind from macular degeneration, and diagnosed with cancer, again. He most likely did 50 miles that day. How? Hell if I know. Tough son-of-a-bitch. 


  1. Since I have read this several times, I am reminded oft the many adventures that dad and I have been on. Many 50 plus miles bike rides with the scouts and those "old fashion" 10 speed bikes.
    A friend and I were out driving and exploring, and stopped at a covered bridge. There were a group of "really old guys" on their bikes; skinny legs, no butts, and gray beards. I think dad would have been enjoying their company as he rode his bike in the mountains to "there and back."
    Thanks Kris for putting into words many of the thoughts and feelings that are so hard to speek aloud.... K2

  2. Thank you all for sharing about yourself and Grandpa. I am learning so much.


  3. Kahale, You are welcome. If you enjoyed this post about grandpa you may appreciate an earlier post (if you haven't already read it) called Bike of My Father.