Funny the World...


May 31, 2000

Isn’t she pretty? I haven’t a clue who she is. I found the photo in my grandfather’s photo album along with a lot of photos of his fellow vaudevillians. I didn’t discover this book until we were cleaning up my father’s house after his death, long after my grandparents’ deaths. What a treasure--and what a shame that part of it will remain forever buried. Who are all these people? Where were the pictures taken? What is the story behind them?

The marvel to me is learning that my grandfather had a scrapbook at all. Who could have guessed that we shared that interest? His scrapbook not only catalogs his travels around California with the vaudeville troupe of Dillon & King, but also his brother’s bicycle races, boxers he enjoyed watching (perhaps one of them was his brother, also a boxer), and his early days with my grandmother, up to the birth of my father.

Not only do the pages contain photos, but they are even arranged in some sort of interesting fashion. He didn’t just slap pictures in a book. I’m very impressed.

I’ve been making scrapbooks all of my life. I got my first camera, an old Brownie box camera--the kind that came with removable flash attachment and took those big flash bulbs that popped when you flashed a picture--when I was ten years old. Prior to that, the family used disposable cameras. These were different from the disposables we see today They were essentially a cardboard box that contained the film and a lens. The "viewfinder" was a wire square frame that you pulled out of the top of the camera. You looked through that square just to center your picture. After you took a picture, you used a knob to roll the film to the next spot on the roll. There was no flash capability... strictly an outdoor camera. When the roll was finished, you cut a slit in the back of the camera and dropped money inside. Then you put a stamp on the camera itself and mailed the whole thing back to the company. They returned your photos and a new camera.

When I got my own camera, I got myself a scrapbook and was in business. I was fanatical about "making memories." When I finished taking a roll of film, I’d race off to the local drug store and turn it in. A week later I’d have my pictures and by night, all the pictures would be neatly put in a book, and labeled. It was a habit I kept for the next 30-40 years. I take lots and lots of pictures and have lots and lots of scrapbooks. (When our first child was born, I took 200 pictures of her during her first week of life--mostly sleeping in various outfits or in people’s arms!)

I hit a snag along about 1994 and things started to back up. Then one day I discovered "Scrapbooking." This isn’t just putting pictures in a book. This isn’t just scrapbooking--it’s SCRAPBOOKING. In the years when my photos had been sitting in piles around the house, gathering dust, a new industry had been born. People no longer just fit pictures on a page. Now they add backgrounds, calligraphy, cute little stickers, glitter, borders, cutouts. It was a whole new world and I knew I’d found my people.

I happened to find a copy of Creating Keepsakes magazine, the magazine for scrapbookers, and immediately subscribed. I learned that this new world also had an entirely new language. My word...what was a cropper hopper? a die cut? did I want lignin-free or not? There were whole issues of the magazine devoted to the tools of the trade--stamp stores, sticker stores, things to cut circles or ovals, a bazillion kinds of pens with all colors of ink, shapes of tips and thickness of impression. There were paper suppliers galore. Carrying cases, paper stands, pre-made figure parts to assemble into cute little figures. There were all sorts of scissors to help you cut fancy edges on your pictures. There were cutters that will give your photo a corner or cut a smiley face or a star or hearts out of a piece of paper. There were glues and pastes and adhesives and things to get the glues and pastes and adhesives off of your pictures if you change your mind. There books devoted to themes--holiday pages, vacation pages, kid pages, wedding pages, baby pages. This month’s featured article is how to design bug pages, for heaven’s sake! There are SCRAPBOOKING conventions taking place all over the world. Bring your cropper hopper, some photos, some old clothes, pay your entry fee, and plan to design a page.

I clearly had a lot of catching up to do.

So I started buying boxes to organize my photos, and a rolling file cabinet to organize my supplies, and then some supplies--cute stickers, some stick-on edges in many colors and designs. I bought a circle cutter and some plastic guides for cutting other shapes out of paper or a photo. I bought lots and lots of cute paper and a bunch of plastic sheets to put them in. And I figured I was ready for business.

I discovered something interesting about all this new SCRAPBOOKING craze. The pages look a lot more interesting, but they take about ten times longer to do each page. First you figure out the design, then you decide which background design to use, then figure out which pictures you’re going to use and how you want them cut or arranged. Add stickers, edges, cute text, and finally when you’re satisfied with it, put in a plastic sheet and put in a book.

Of course I have at least a 6 year backlog of photos and at the rate I’m making scrapbook pages, it’s going to take me the rest of my life just to get the end of 1999 into books.

Thank God I now have a digital camera and all the photos can rest safely on a disk where they don’t get in the way and nobody ever has to look at them again. Of course, since I take about 100 picture every time we go anywhere, I’m already running out places to store the disks. And I’ve only had the camera for 3 months.

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created 5/31/00 by Bev Sykes