Big hair, MTV and mothering babies. That’s what the 80’s were to me. And then came a move to the country, a first marriage ended and a new love was found. It was a time for community, for creating our own celebrations, for home-made, home-schooled and the harmonic convergence. We learned to grow and preserve food and make our own herbal medicinals. We made music and sold and traded our crafts, cut our kids’ hair ourselves (or didn’t), went to potlucks and sweat lodges, swam in ponds and rivers, gathered around bonfires and for women’s circles and blessingways. Some of us chose not to have TV, lived simply and below the poverty line and off the grid.
I was often homesick for my home and family in Massachusetts while living in Texas for the first five years of the 80’s, but I came to love my first husband’s family, who relocated there during the construction boom, and so I have fond memories of those times and that place where my children were born.
When we moved to Virginia in 1985 we were looking to homestead and for home-schooling support. We found an instant sense of tribe with the back-to-the-land transplants (alter-natives) who came before us. Recently, while scanning photographs of the 80’s for the 30th anniversary of the Blue Mountain School, the independent school where my sons went and where I taught creative writing for years, I was reminded of the strength of community here in Floyd and the longtime bonds that we share.
I named the photo scanning project “Old School,” but it soon became much more than a retrospective on Blue Mountain School. In an effort to save a collection of photos, I scanned a dozen-or-so photos from each of my hardcopy photo albums (which are falling apart) to tell the story of those early years building community in Floyd. Like the scratch of old album on a turntable, the photos have scratches and specks where the paper has already started to decompose, which gives me a sense of satisfaction to see them being preserved digitally (at least until the next technology comes along).
Old School also tells the story of family. I was touched to see how times my parents had visited over the years (my mother is now disabled and my father passed away in 2005). Siblings and their children also came, as well as my sons’ paternal grandparents. And we visited all of them. There was the yearly Labor Day cook-out in Massachusetts, where we stayed on the peninsula of my hometown, along with trips back to Texas for the Renaissance Faire and to see my brother Danny, who followed me there in the late 70’s when he was looking to make a new start.
Two days later, I’m hung over from scanning, but I’m enjoying clicking through the images I’ve collected and noticing more and more details. It’s amazing to me that the scanned pictures look better and bigger than the pre-4×6 originals. And the cross section of comments the old photos have received on Facebook have caused my worlds collide in a good way. Soon, I will start on an early 1990’s pre-digital series. I’ll probably call it “Phase Two in which Doris Gets Her Oats.”
After that, like a Star Wars Trilogy, I’ll go backwards to the beginning and scan what I can.