May 27, 2021

Jeff and Me in Our House in 1976

Jeff and me, back around 1976, in the house where we grew up in Lilburn, GA. I'm not sure why we were dressed up (and this is what counted as "dressed up" for us back then, by the way; not tuxedos, obviously, or even ties, but pants that weren't jeans and shoes that weren't sneakers). It might have been around Easter, but our Easter outfits tended to be brighter and more pastel-ish.

Whatever the occasion for the outfits and the picture, I love seeing this little slice of our house from way back then--the wall without the chair rail and paneling that my mom added years later, and which I tend to think of as having always been part of the house; that brown carpet that was there when we moved in, but which Mom replaced (in the living room, at least) with multi-colored, elaborately patterned carpeting that hid spilled chocolate milk and muddy footprints; that hanging candle sconce-like thingy on the wall behind us; the corner of the living room, just on the right side of the frame, which didn't yet have a desk in it.

It was my home for another fifteen years after this picture was taken and it changed quite a bit in that decade-and-a-half; this is not how I see the house in my mind when I think back on it (which I do often). But I'm happy to have these reminders that things weren't always as I remember them.

May 20, 2021

Christmas 1971

You know how sometimes kids have more fun playing with the box than with whatever came in the box? Santa too knows this, and for Christmas in 1971, the box WAS the present. And what a great present it was! Looking back at it now, I see it as a fort, and a castle, and a spaceship, and a haunted house, and whatever else a four-year-old-boy wanted it to be. I remember it with great fondness—though to be honest, I’m not sure I did much spaceshipping or haunted-housing in it; I remember crawling around it and through it a lot, though. Most of the other presents I got as a child I remember largely because I've seen them in pictures, but this cardboard playhouse (or whatever exactly it should be called) I remembered well before I happened upon this picture. I don't think I've ever received a better present. (A few equally good, perhaps, such as my first electric guitar a decade later, but none truly better.) I don't know what became of it, though; I have no idea whether that elaborate and wonderful cardboard structure held up for a week or a year. It was probably gone, or at least all played out, by the Christmas of 1972.

May 13, 2021

Scott and Me, 1982

This picture of my cousin Scott and me was taken in the den of my grandmother's house in Tucker in 1981 or 1982. Scott and I both went to Berkmar High School by then; I'm pretty sure this was taken when I was in ninth grade and he was in eleventh. We were still close at that point: I saw Scott every day at school, and we got together most weekends either at my house to play Wizardry on our Apple II or his house to "jam" (he played drums and I played guitar; I was na├»ve enough back then to think of what we did with our instruments in his garage as "jamming," but "making an unholy noise" is probably more accurate). This was some months, maybe even a whole year, before we formed our short-lived high school band, Voyager, with Roy Smith, whom we met in Coach Wilson's World History class. Roy played drums, I played guitar, and Scott played bass and keyboards and sang (but, because we didn't have a P.A. system, you couldn't actually hear him singing). Every song we played (except the few that we wrote) Scott or my guitar teacher Desi showed me how to play. I didn't realize this at the time, but I had—have—terrible ears and very little musical ability. If somebody showed me where to put my fingers I did okay, but my ability never really rose above that basic level of knowing where my fingers go. It still hasn't, and though I still noodle around on guitar every once in a while, I still can't really play anything that Scott or Desi didn't teach me.

Scott's shirt says "I Love Real People." He got it (if I remember correctly) at a taping of the TV show "Real People" when his family made an epic drive across the whole country, from Georgia to California, a few months earlier. My shirt says "Junkyard Dog" and features a drawing of a bulldog. I didn't get it at a taping of anything; it probably came from Treasure Island. Or maybe Richway. In any case, whether this shirt really had anything to do with the University of Georgia—a possible connection about which I was completely clueless at the time—I don't know, but people seeing me wearing it often assumed it did. They also incorrectly assumed I knew more (which is to say, anything) and cared more (which is to say, at all) about UGA and college football than I actually did.

Behind us on the wall of Granny's den were the family pictures that I think of as having always been there. The topmost picture on the left is my brother Jeff and me. That picture was taken just after my mother had to get my hair trimmed down to a crew cut after my cousin Catherine tried to give me a haircut in 1971, an incident I heard about all the time when I was growing up. As you can see, my hair eventually grew out.