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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Reusable frames

© Another Day in the Country

On a shelf in my garage, I’ve kept a bunch of reusable frames for 8x10 pictures.

Once upon a time, they hung in the Dirt Gambler’s Museum we put together in Ramona to celebrate the town’s history.

By sheer grit, we kept the Museum open in the old bank building until upkeep was more than we could handle and we had to dismantle it.

The dismantling is a story in itself. 

One of the displays we put up, early on, was of children who had grown up in and around Ramona.

There stands Erich Utech as a teenager, shy and skinny beside a turkey gobbler who doesn’t seem to be either shy or skinny. It must have been a pet.

Another photo is of Paula Mueller as a baby sitting beside her brother, Arthur. You can see Paula the adult in that tiny little toddler’s face.

Another frame shows Bill and Emma Bentz in 1925, proudly holding their little girl, Norma.

There’s Warren Fike playing with his dog on the front porch of their house in 1927, and Leon and Aaron Bura showing off their calves out in the barnyard.

There’s my Uncle Hank with a bunch of his nieces and nephews — looks like he was taking them for a ride on an old wagon.

One of the pictures was of my Aunt Gertie, as a toddler, bravely sitting astride a horse while her grandpa holds the bridle. I can’t envision her riding a horse as an adult, but maybe she did.

After the museum closed, I thought most of the frames were emptied. They sat on the shelf in the garage for quite a while, waiting for some purpose.

As I started counting how many I’d need to take to school, I discovered all these old photographs still in place.

Even though the pictures were just copies, I had trouble throwing them away. They went into the wastebasket, as I attempted to be expedient, then I pulled them back out to look at them one more time.

Finally, I went out to my old burn barrel and started a fire, tossing them in, turning them to ash. Now I couldn’t pull them back out of the trash or stick them in a file somewhere.

Right before Christmas, I took the empty frames to art class. Each child was going to create a painting in just one hour. It was doable if they concentrated. We then would frame them instantly with these magical, reused frames, and they could give their creations to someone for Christmas.

Maybe you were even lucky enough to get one as a Christmas present. Now you know the story.

We had to hustle, because we had only 55 minutes to create this bit of Christmas magic.

It was fun to anticipate. I was glad to be using these old frames that had held old timers’ photographs. It seemed as if I’d been saving these frames for just such a time as this.

As I stood out by the burn barrel, consigning old pictures to the fire, remembering the people who lived their lives in this town, I thought of another idea;

Maybe I’ll write about them in my column! Just mentioning their names will bring back memories for all the people who knew them.

That’s as close as any of us get to immortality, to be remembered. It’s one of the things I like about living in Ramona.

Even though the old bank building no longer houses a bank or the Dirt Gambler’s Museum we started. Even though the house that Aunt Gertie and Uncle Hank lived in now looks pretty unlivable. Even though someone new lives in Paula’s house, I remember those people and the places where they belonged.

I go downtown and I can see Uncle Hank, in my mind, heading across the street to the post office that’s still there, still functioning.

I don’t need a photo to envision the town park that I remember running through when I was a child, hunting for four-leaf clovers in the grass.

And it all happened, going by so fast, on just another day in the country.

Last modified March 10, 2022

 

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