Cooper, Helena, Khürt, and Shane

My mom is staying with me this month and brought some family photo albums. I’m busy scanning as much as possible and getting the story behind each photograph.

Mom is staying with me for a few weeks. I have not seen Mom since February 2020. She’s been on the Caribbean islands of St. Vincent and The Grenadines since the start of the global pandemic.

She was not doing well with the state and federally-mandated lockdown conditions. In May 2020, my brother and I worked out a plan to get Mom out of the USA to St. Vincent. She travelled from Charlotte, North Carolina, through Miami, Florida, then Barbados, before arriving in St. Vincent 24 hours later. Fortunately, the island chain has had very few outbreaks of COVID-191. She had a minor scare in December 2020 when the La Soufrière volcano erupted effusively, followed by an explosive eruption on April 22, 2021, which blanketed the island for several weeks in a rain of volcanic ash.

I’m happy to see Mom after two years, but she is only back in the USA to see her doctor in New York City about some recent health challenges. She needs a surgical procedure to biopsy a mass in her oesophagus. She sounds scared, and I’m trying to calm my 79-year-old mother. The east coast has some of the best medical professionals and facilities in the USA.

She brought a few of the family photo albums, as I asked for. I am slowly scanning in the prints relying on Mom’s memory of each photograph. Some of the pictures are almost 50 years old and in poor condition. I want to find some restoration software to help bring out the best from each scan.

It took me a few days to develop a repeatable scan workflow for photographic prints. The collection of photographs varied in print size and was most likely captured on various photographic film stock and from different cameras over time; some photos are in colour with the faded word Kodak Paper or Kodachrome on the back. A few photographs have dates on the edges of the print, but most do not.

Mom thinks the scan included in this post was taken circa 1969, shortly after she and Dad moved us into a rented house in the New Montrose section of Kingstown. In this photograph, most likely captured by a family member or close friend, Dad is holding me on his knee, and Mom is holding up my brother Shane. I would have been about three; my brother Shane was about six months old. Mom thinks the family car at the time was a Morris sedan. Given the time, this was a Morris 1100 or 1300.

The house in New Montrose is located across the street from the entrance to St Vincent and the Grenadines Botanic Gardens, the oldest botanic garden in the Western Hemisphere.

  1. The numbers are rising now that the ports are reopened to international travellers. 

Memories of Dad

I woke up this morning thinking about Dad. I miss all those moments we spent listening to records.

The inner sleeve is on the couch. I sit and read the jacket. Dad cleans the record surface and stylus while the pre-amp and tube amp warm up. The polished vinyl gently drops onto the platter. The turntable spins. The tonearm and phono cartridge gracefully move into place. No words were spoken. It was time to listen.

Ready for school, 1969

I'm going through some old photos from two boxes that Mom brought with her near the end of last February.

I'm going through some old photos from two boxes that Mom brought with her near the end of last February. The plan was that Mom would visit for a few weeks before seeing her family in Bequia. Shaan and Kiran were at college, and Bhavna and I had just completed our kitchen renovation project. We had lots of space, and Mom enjoyed using the updated kitchen. Mom and I would go through these two huge boxes of negative and prints, and I would scan them in, attempt to restore any damaged images, and document the story behind each photograph.

But she had a dental emergency and wanted to visit her dentist in Charlotte. By the time she had resolved, a global pandemic had hit the east coast and shut everything down. Mom was stuck in Charlotte with my brother, Shane, and I had no way to meet with the sole remaining storyteller for these images. Dad passed in 2019, and my grandparents passed decades ago. A few months after her trip to Charlotte, she insisted she needed to be "home", so we discussed the risk and bought her a ticket. She's doing fine, enjoying time with her cousins and sisters, nieces and nephews.

I scanned some of the prints anyway. Hopefully, soon, Mom will be back stateside to tell me the what/who/when/where.

The little person in this photograph is me. I'm guessing that it was taken around 1969 when I was four years old. If I recall correctly, Mom probably dressed me for my first day of pre-school. At the time, schools required all students to wear uniforms. I think many still do today. I believe this is the house my parents were renting in the New Montrose section of Kingstown in St. Vincent. New Montrose mainly was a residential neighbourhood with tiny two-bedroom homes built on the side of a relatively steep hill. I still have these lucid dreams of being in a car being driven up and across the roads in New Montrose.

Dad's eldest sister lived a few houses away. When I was ready for school, Mom and I would walk over to my aunt's house. My older cousin Joann and I would then walk to the school together.

The entrance to the St. Vincent Botanical Gardens was across the road from the house. Mom took us to the garden often, where we were allowed to run around with our family dog, smell the fragrant flowers and watch the tadpoles swimming in the lily pond. The house is now the site of the American University Of St Vincent School of Medicine.

I shared the scan with Mom via WhatsApp, but she has no idea who took this photo and what camera or film was used. The photograph was most likely taken by mom herself. What popular cameras did consumers use in the late 1960s?