It’s vacation time. Time to travel to exotic destinations. Or cool ones. Somewhere away.
You’re in the picture-perfect place, and you decide to capture the ambience. You pull out your iPhone—or Android, if you are locked in our family’s perpetual battle of iPhone versus ’droid—and snap the moment.
Before you can tuck your camera back in its carrying place, a stranger approaches you with a question:
Would you mind snapping a photo of me?
Well, I don’t suppose it would happen exactly like that in this age of the ubiquitous smart phone. Perhaps during Bill Bean’s earlier years, however, the much-rarer camera-toting tourist would have achieved an enviable status.
In going through the many photographs Bill Bean left behind, I’ve puzzled over one shot taken in a very Yosemite-like vicinity. The sole subject of the photo had me stumped: wearing what looked like open-toed heels, this person could hardly be classified as a hiker.
That, however, wasn’t the main reason I was puzzled over this photograph. It was the note on the back.
Best I could make out, the scrawl said something like this:
Douglas 6565J. P. Aikman [Arkman?]2nd floorJ. E. Sompkins186 N. W. Montgomery
The “Douglas 6565” was most likely someone’s phone number.
The rest? Well, I just presumed Bill had done the equivalent of that small networking faux pas that we all find ourselves doing at some point: grabbing one of our own business cards to write down the contact information of someone we’ve met—and then forgetting to follow through, perhaps passing the slip of paper along to yet again someone else.
However that note got on this photograph—and whoever it was intended for—I’ll never know. I doubt it was for anyone significant in my own search for family history stories.
Today, though, it occurred to me that perhaps there was an alternate scenario playing itself out. What if Bill, the consummate shutterbug, had been taking pictures, was spotted and befriended by a tourist, and pressed for the kindness of his immediate services.
Yeah, sure, he’d get the photo back to the stranger as soon as he got it developed. Perhaps, when it was developed, he set it aside, scrawling the note on the reverse to remind himself of the tourist’s name and business location.
And then…life got hectic, as it always does, once we return to work after a vacation.
And the picture just sat there on the desk.
He meant well, I’m sure. But Mr. and Mrs. Aikman—or Arkman—it looks like you never got the photograph you were requesting.
It’s still in Bill Bean’s box of photographic memories.