I’m nostalgic, but I don’t glorify the past.

A friend of mine lost his house and almost everything he had in the Thomas fire in Ventura, CA. That got me to doing a photo inventory of every thing I own. And I mean everything including the box of tooth picks in the kitchen drawer.

Part of this inventory is scanning old photographs. It’s a slow process to scan in shoe box after shoe box of photos. I have big feet. I haven’t worn size 13 shoes since I was in junior high and my feet have only gotten bigger. But at least I don’t have to wear a Nike NBA player size 19 shoe. But with the photos scanned and saved to a thumb drive that is stored in a plastic bag inside a metal box and in a safe place I will have the photos come fire or flood.

When I scan these old photos in I can’t help think back about how almost everything I knew is gone or has changed so much as it is almost unrecognizable.

I had a reason to visit the city near the old reservation I grew up on, so I took a quick trip to visit the grade school I went to as a little kid. It wasn’t the same. Almost all the old building were gone or over shadowed by new buildings. It’s good to see a poor school get new building and to have expanded for more room. But I miss the old tree that sat in the corner of the school where we had Easter Egg hunts, or sat under for some special classes. The school was not air conditioned back then and it was cool under that tree. You can’t have a tree on school grounds now, some kid will climb it and fall and hurt himself.

Building don’t make a school. I remember when I was very young and the cook for the school retired. The food quality went way down. She cooked like my mother cooked. When she retired the food became plain simple food, not a meal. For some of the kids in the school that was the best meal of the day. My mother got her recipe for salmon patties from the cook. At school when we had salmon patties if you found the bone in your patty you got a quarter. That was a lot of money back then (two and half comic books).

The freeway bypasses the little town, I grew up outside of, now and the town is fading away. There isn’t a gas station in the town any more. Gasoline is so much cheaper just across the state line a quarter of a mile away.

There is still a remnant of the business my father built from the ground up, but it is fading away too.

Do I think the past was better than now. No. As my cardiologist told me recently. Twenty or thirty year ago, she used to spend over half her time in the hospital trying to save the lives of people that were having heart attacks. She wasn’t able to save many. It hurt her. Now she can try and stop people from having a heart attack in the first place and if they have one there is a good chance she can save them. I’m alive today because of those changes.

Still, I don’t want to lose those memories preserved by those old pictures. Even the simple things like a couple of old black and white pictures from high school.

The past wasn’t so good, but like today we can, step by step; difficult steps, make it better. We can make the whole world better. But it will take work.

Stay strong, write on, and work for a better world.

Professor Hyram Voltage