A life worth living The stories told by our old photographs A picture is worth a thousand words. So many stories they can tell. I

t seems that recently I am hard at the task of purging things that are somewhat extraneous. This is not an easy task as many things hold

great memories. As you sift through, it is as if your memory is like a flower with the pet- als unveiling layers of your life. So many thoughts and ideas come to mind during the sifting. They have “sense memory” for you and you be- gin to understand that your children have little or no connection to any of this. Their response may be to merely get rid of it all in the most expedient manner.

Photographs from your past are a particularly thorny thing to sort as so many of the people in them are your friends and the pictures were taken at special moments of your life. You begin to realize as you are sorting that many of the people in them are no longer with us. Faces in laughter and at serious moments start to revive old feelings and make you acutely aware of how precious that time you shared was. How wonderful it would be to have them to talk to again and share stories and experiences. Seeing my parents in so many of these old photos

born and so young to be both a mother and a wife. I always think of them in terms of what they were

Jim Pappas

when I was a teenager. They were a settled mar- ried couple with two boys and a business that they both worked at very diligently. Their sense of responsibility was the most prevalent thing in their lives – to pro- vide for us and make certain that we had a proper education and a good life ahead. I never thought of them as being young and playful and in love. But as I began to sort the photos, a new aspect of them came to the fore. In a three-part photo of them taken in 1947, my mother was 25 and my father was 33. I had a glimpse of what their life was before we boys invaded the scene. In the three photos here attached is my mother alone in the first one then my father joins her in the second one and in the third they are horsing

is like having a déjà vu memory to what life was like as I was growing up. My parents had a very strong relationship and in sifting through the photos I am now aware that there were dimensions to that re- lationship that I had never thought of before. My mother was only 19 when she married my father in 1941, and only one year later they had me. It’s difficult to accept that she was only 20 when I was

around together. This was an insight that I rarely had on them as a couple. That sense of playfulness was not always displayed and it is very revelatory to me. My father loved to tell the story of how he got his first date with her to go to the Capitol Theatre to see Gone with the Wind. She used to say that she had the last laugh that evening. He had invited her to go to dinner afterwards at a restaurant called The Blackstone, but she invited her two sisters to join them as a buffer zone to keep him at bay. This became what we called an “urban legend” story between them and was revisited many times with embellishment by both of them and a lot of laughs. To see them both so young and so vibrant and in

love is a rare instance of a window to your own his- tory. Imagining the courtship and the obstacles they faced is not something that is readily evident as we look backward. After all, she was only 19 and her father was very protective of all his six daughters. She had a stubborn streak, too, and clashed with her father frequently as she always stood up to him. My father, also, was not an easy man to live with. He had old country ideas and a Canadian-born wife who was not be ordered around. In fact, I love the line in Nia Vardalos’ movie, My Big Fat Greek Wed- ding, when the father says “..and I am the head of the house” and storms up the stairs. The mother then says “...and I am the neck and it turns the head”. Nothing could describe my parents better than Nia’s words in this case. There is a lot of work sifting through these old photos and then filling a garbage bag with some that will have no resonance for our children. I am trying to preserve the very best of the past so that they can look at their grandparents and see them as youthful and vibrant. I want our children to have a sense of history about their family and their roots but I am not willing to burden them with the sorting, sift- ing and deciding. So the task is mine to clarify the past and leave them with a treasury box of photos that tell a story about their parents, grandparents and great grandparents, to leave them a sense of the struggles that were overcome, the victories won and the hope we all instill in the next generation. I am purging some of it to clarify the past and

provide a sharper understanding of where they come from so they can feel proud to know that their ancestors delivered to them a life worth living. Jim Pappas is a lifelong Winnipegger who has made the most of every minute.

To TV or not to TV, that is the question I

have never been a great television watcher.

Working full time and raising three children took most of my time and effort for a number of years and I just never wanted to waste that much time when I could be deep in a good book, knitting or gardening. Now that I’m retired and the chil-

dren have children of their own I find I have more leisure time. I no longer have my garden as I live up town in a high-rise and my few flower pots take no time at all. I still read a great deal and am busy knitting up mittens for the Mitten Tree at Winnipeg Harvest. Recently engaged, I now have a man

about the house and he loves his sports so I met him half way and got televi- sion installed. I have to say for the first couple of weeks I couldn’t get enough of those awful reality shows. But the novelty has worn thin and once again I find my nose in a book. Not having TV for a long period of time, I am learning new things every day. The best thing, I have to say, is the PVR. This little gismo allows me to tape something and watch it in the future with the joy of fast forwarding through all the commercials.

12 Helen Harper

You can literally watch a three hour football game in about twenty five minutes. I find it amazing. I’m still learning, though, and a friend reminded me that I don’t actually tape something as there is no tape involved. My learning curve is still pretty steep. The interesting thing is there are all

these channels as well as Netflix but I still can’t find anything that holds my attention like a good murder mystery. I have always said the book is better than the movie and this still holds true for me. And don’t get me started on those reality shows. We have become a voy- eur society. At the water cooler, folks talk like they know these TV people personally. It’s pretty scary. I still pre- fer a good cup of coffee with a good friend in a quaint coffee shop, with no

cell phones, just good old conversation. Yes, I’m from a different generation than Kim K

and don’t take selfies all day long but I can hold up my end of a conversation without talking about television.

Helen Harper is a volunteer at CJNU 93.7 Nostalgia Radio. TV or not TV - or just grab a good book. November 2018

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