I am not smart enough to know when to take a picture off the wall. So, I just keep adding to the wall. Pictures; mostly pictures.
I have done this for a while. Like, 60 years.
“The Wall” is the wall just to the left of and behind my desk, on which reside my computer and other such allied – and un-allied – necessities.
These pictures cover a lot of ground and a little water. The portrait picture of my mom and pop goes back to 1946 after I had come home from the Air Force (photographer) and was glad to use my skills to show family members what they look like.
The shot of my high-school class (1942) was made 17 years after we graduated. There are 25 in the reunion picture and we were still young and experimental. Though there was not much to experiment with during those days. What I remember most about that reunion, however, was when Della Cheek walked up and I said: “Hey, Della, I bet you don’t remember me.” And, she answered: “Why, of course I do, Eugene McCombs.”
One of the specials on the wall is a shot of my wife, Betty, sitting there in an easy chair with Tom in one arm and Ben in the other. The twins are a few days old and the smile on her face is as bright as fireworks at the fair.
There is a family picture, probably made around 1948. I am two years into college at the time and trying to figure what this major in English at Duke is all about. In the photo, my four brothers and two sisters have Ipana smiles and I look like I have a fever.
Betty’s dad, Howard, is smiling in his picture. He knows where he has been, and he’s been in three wars. A school principal, he volunteered and served in the trenches of World War I. He was too old for World War II, so he joined the American Red Cross and served up close and personal as a military field director as fighting moved inward and across the continent.
He was still with the Red Cross when fighting broke out in Korea and, once again, he knew the cold, bitter taste of that war-torn winter. He never carved his own epitaph, but I wish he had.
Getting goodly amounts of space on the wall are the grandkids. They are in more than a dozen pictures. Kyle 26, is there, looking like he has just moved into high school. We know, of course, that he is a Marine first lieutenant and is flying Osprey aircraft somewhere where the sound of battle is a mere mountaintop away.
A handful of photos was made at the beach. They were made with new friends, who now are old friends. The steady toll of time has cut into their number, but we still have their images and their memories.
There is one shot of the tennis group which we called “The Prostate Invitational.” Fifteen men who sometimes looked like they had been raised on a stony hillside played for 19 years and only recently hung up their rackets.
There are many other pictures that speak for themselves. Two are of then-U.S. President George H. W. Bush and yours truly.
The picture was made when the president visited my hometown (Faith, near Salisbury) on July 4th, 1991. He was running for re-election and took part in a little thrown-together softball game. I showed him a box score of a college game between Yale and Duke in which the score was 10-1 favor Duke. I showed the President the game box score and told him: “Mr. President, I got two hits and you got none.”
That’s when he hit me on the shoulder and, with a big smile, said: “Get outa here!” Click!
Another shot for The Wall.