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My First Kodak Moment

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I've been busy writing a short story called "The Final Curtain Call": a harrowing tale about an aging rock star's final performance on a highly successful tour, promoting his and his band's latest record album; replete with the unexpected events leading up to a deadly ending. Could the resulting catastrophe have been averted? We'll never know but only can assume the answer, one way or the other. I'm finished with it and will be including it here, next.

For filler here in the meantime, a thought crossed my mind earlier about what might have been the first photograph I ever took. My mother was the photographer in the family at the time, although my dad was fascinated with his portable, 8mm motion-picture camera that needed to be cranked-up to begin filming. He was a pain in the butt with it, shooting footage of us in very precarious situations, like when I had the mumps for Christmas as a young child, or my premier free-flight on a bicycle without the training wheels attached, with my quickly forthcoming, spectacular crash landing; and my first day being dropped off at kindergarten, tripping on the top step going up to the front entrance, ripping my pant leg and scrapping my knee while falling down onto the cement. I became friends instantly with little Annie O'Brien, who rushed over and helped me up on my feet. I didn't dare cry and kept a stiff upper lip, for I knew my father was filming the entire event.

My Father's 8mm Camera and Projector

It was always fun whenever pop picked up the developed film on his way home from work. He'd set up the projector and screen after dinner for everyone to watch the usually hilarious scenes. Mum would make popcorn for us to eat. It was like going to the picture show. My favorite episode was watching the spectacle of when my brother got beat up by Billy McGuire in the center of the circular court, directly outside of our garden apartment. My mother was a mad woman, almost in fisticuffs with Billy's mother who was cheering her son on. Officer Chomsky on his way home from his shift broke up the fight and sent everyone on their way. My dad was able to capture the whole fiasco while standing on our front stoop, giving him an excellent vantage point. My sibling was six years older than me; needless to say, I was normally his punching bag.

My First Camera

While my family was vacationing one summer up in Canada, not far from where my folks grew up, my dad had rented a cottage in a camping site across the road from Lac Champlain, in a small lakeside town called "Venise-en-Québec." The cottage was more like a cabin, uninsulated, and damp when raining out. The roof began to leak after the second day of deluge. We didn't have much fun for the first few days until the sky cleared up on the third afternoon. Earlier that morning, the rain had stopped, but it was still too cold out to consider going swimming in the lake. Having cabin fever and raising Cain, as a youngster of seven or eight can ultimately do, I was basically evicted from our hut by my mother. who evidently wanted some peace and solitude.

"Michael, here, take the Kodak and let me show you how to use it." She opened the lid and out popped this black, shrouded, mysterious device, something for which I had always admired but was never allowed to touch: Mom's forbidden fruit. "Now, go outside and take some pictures. Just be careful not to scratch or get the camera wet," she advised after demonstrating the logistics and particulars with respect to operation, distance and aperture.

Only about six exposures were left in the camera, so I had to space out my photographs. Mum said I could use up whatever was left on the roll. The property next to our cabin was a farm and had some animals running around, inspiring me to get ready to take my first picture. I attempted to figure out how far away they were and adjusted the distance to halfway. The daylight was getting brighter as the clouds dispersed, so I closed the aperture to halfway, remembering Mom's instructions.

Just as I snapped the photograph, my mother came barreling out of our cottage. I distinctly remember hearing the screen door slam after having flown wide-open and pulled right-back shut immediately behind her by the long spring attached to the top. "Michael, don't take pictures of that." she clamored. "Go across the street and take some pictures of the lake." My mother was visibly shaken and red-faced from her apparent embarrassment. She was such a prude! The following was my first shot:

Ménage à trois?

Actually, the preceding pic is a simulated replica of the original scenario, although a rabbit wasn't included in the foreground back then as shown above in my outrageous, photo-shopped re-creation. Hares are such harlots. Only two dogs filled the frame of the real first photo, in which both were shown fornicating frantically. I had never seen anything like it and thought nothing was wrong with capturing the moment. I guess I have to thank my mom for my life-long love of photography.


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