Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Wilke: Photographic Interest Is Apparent

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Wilke: Photographic Interest Is Apparent

Article excerpt

When my dad died last summer, I inherited two things from him: a set of beer steins, which had belonged to his father, where the handles were women in different stages of undress; and his old photographic slides and projector.

You have to be at least my age to remember slideshows, suffering through interminable evenings of your unpleasant uncle's recent trip to Fresno. But in my case, I looked forward to them because it meant pictures of race cars. As a boy I began to take an interest in my father's hobby and loved to be a part of his life.

To my great fortune, when I plugged in my father's Bell & Howell projector, at least 55 years old, it fired up as if it had been used yesterday. A very organized man, my dad had most slide trays organized and categorized by when they were taken and subject matter.

The colors on the film may have faded but the memories had not, and a new picture of a man emerged.

There were pictures of my parents' wedding in 1959, pictures of me and my brother and sister from the early and mid-1960s, plenty of pictures of my mom (a beautiful woman then and now) and lots of shots of race cars taken at the dawn of my dad's interest in sports car racing, a passion that would last his entire life.

But there were also a lot of pictures I had never seen.

There were photos of my dad in Paris, and my dad touring the canals in Amsterdam, and in Rome and Switzerland. There was a picture of my him, wearing a sweater I received as a hand-me-down, with the Matterhorn in the background. These photos were taken with his Army buddies when they were traveling around Europe on leave from their base in West Germany. He was visiting the great cities of the world, rebuilding less than 10 years after the end of World War II, and he never talked about it.

There were loads of pictures of a tall, handsome, impeccably dressed and broadly smiling man who had his entire life in front of him.

He wasn't a talkative man to begin with, but I would think if you had traveled as extensively as he apparently had, then you would want to regale people with stories. Sadly, not in his case. …

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