Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Retrospectives and Memories

My youngest sister collected most of the family slides and scanned them, and gave them out for Christmas. I spent too much time last night looking them over, especially the Liberian ones.

I remembered more faces than I thought I would (per earlier post), and a lot of memories triggered. I'd forgotten that the garden edging brickwork was black with slime mold, and how ubiquitous and slippery that stuff was. (That's tropical rain forest for you.) I remembered the tour of the strip mine--or at least the part where Dad wanted to drive down into the pit and I got out of the car, but pretty much nothing of the rest, though there are pictures that say we saw a lot of things there.

And looking at the scenes now I see details that I missed completely when I was 10. I'd seen the people gathering, but had no sense of why the women dressed as they did--it was just the "done thing." I'd seen the high school boys playing soccer or basketball, and not noticed how the high school girls were "not quite" watching them. I hadn't realized how shabby the floor had been those first years, though I'd actually done my share of peeling up loose bits of tile. And the reason my friend's home felt so empty to me was that there weren't any bookcases.

And, of course, I'd not distinguished one flower from another (still don't, which drives my Better Half nuts when she tries to describe what part of the garden needs tending).

Looking back at pictures of a True Whig Party parade for Tubman and knowing now that a lot of the support was nominal (support the distributor of largesse and jobs) left me wondering: would I have noticed that if I had been present and adult? Or would I have taken it at face value? Knowing what would become of some of those well-dressed men on a beach a few years later makes some of the images unexpectedly grim, though the pictures were usually of celebrations.

I had no idea just how vicious the tribal divisions would later become, and I can't even see it in retrospect (squinting hard); probably because the areas we lived were either mono-tribal or urban. The Americo-vs-tribal division was easy to see: would I have guessed what was coming? Probably not--some things you don't confide in foreigners.

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