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Jim Walker: Melting memories and Kodak moments

Don't Take Me Seriously

Posted: February 24, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 24, 2012 1:55 a.m.

My friends, I have finally begun to tackle the daunting and long-belated task of scanning a trunk-full of family photos — turning them into digital images so that I can then create DVDs of my daughters’ childhoods for them as keepsakes.

Yeah, awww.

And, as I scan-away, pausing at every photo to think back fondly and tearfully to “the good old days,” the lyrics “Preserve your memories; they’re all that’s left you” haunt me.

Now, in my poorly preserved memory, it would seem that, for decades, Eastman Kodak used those lyrics and the accompanying music in its television commercials.

But, apparently, it didn’t. It was only the poignant power of the Simon and Garfunkel “Bookends” song that nostalgically and forever embedded that line in my mind.

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was

A time of innocence, a time of confidences

Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph

Preserve your memories; they’re all that’s left you

And I pause here, yet again, to dry my eyes and blow my nose.

(Visit, and I triple-dog dare you to listen to the song, while looking at old family photos, and not start bawling like a schoolboy with a stubbed toe.)

Now, I had to research the above lyrics, because I had also, mistakenly, yet logically, associated those “memories” lines with the Simon and Garfunkel song “Kodachrome.” I mean, you know, preserve your memories on film, i.e., Kodak, ipso facto, Kodachrome. Right?

Well, I was wrong, but Kodak did use “Kodachrome” in commercials and, from that song, we get the famous line “Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away.”

Sadly, Mama didn’t listen. She got drunk and mean and took our Kodachrome away. Digital photography has all but eliminated the use of it, and Kodak stopped making it. And this highly respected company, which “owned” a large part of the last century, is now struggling through bankruptcy and reorganization.

The company that preserved so many of my “Kodak moments,” so many of my memories, is in danger of becoming one.

Well, Kodak is trying to catch up with the times and to remain relevant and I, if only for nostalgic reasons, hope it makes it.

Maybe I can follow its example.

Now, there are other wistful songs that were cleverly used in Kodak commercials. “Turn Around” was one, and “Times of Your Life” another. And, though I found no record of it, my memory remembers “Memories.”

So, if I remember my point, what we are really discussing here is memories, and the way they melt, like Silly Putty, into new shapes when we leave them to their own devices.

In fact, there’s another line from “Kodachrome” that relates to losing memories, and it rings true to me, as I’ve pretty much forgotten “all the crap I learned in high school” — which is probably a good thing.

On the other hand, it is a humbling thing to relive an old memory with someone who was there — and to find out that each of you remembers something different. Who is right? Who knows? — unless you have a third geezer present to cast the deciding vote. The classic song from “Gigi,” “I Remember It Well,” illustrates this humorously:

… We dined with friends

We dined alone

A tenor sang

A baritone

Ah, yes, I remember it well …

Now, as I pull out each old photo from my dusty trunk, each re-discovered treasure, I realize how much “life” is preserved on those prints and how many of those memories only exist in this hard form, as they are no longer retrievable from the cobwebbed corridors of my brain.

And I will dutifully digitize those prints, so that they can be stored, incorruptible, in tiny spaces, and so they can be beamed out instantly to anyone I choose, at any time. Maybe, someday soon, I can download them back into my brain and those bygone days will be fresh and clear and alive again.

But I will keep my trunk-o’-pics, just the same, because there is something incredibly moving about holding those memories, about physically touching them. And though the images may fade with time, I say:

Thank you Kodak, and please don’t go away.

Preserve your memories; they’re all that’s left you

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