JEAN: This Fourth of July, we at “Now & Then” mark the occasion with a declaration of interdependence. In a time riven with political and viral strife, we call upon you, dear readers, to unite with us in recalling and celebrating past joys and anticipating future pleasures.
CLAY: We all have places we’d like to go, but the complications and risks have been formidable. It’s only natural for our thoughts to drift to places we’ve visited and would like to experience again.
JEAN: Sometimes the places we long to revisit exist only in the pages of old photo albums when our memories were unformed. You’ve got one of those.
CLAY: I’ve long pondered a photo of my parents and me in Tijuana near the end of 1953, when I was 2½. I’m astride a donkey, painted to look like a zebra for visibility, called a “zonkey.” Background signs tell more of the story.
JEAN: Talk about a photo and caption all in one!
CLAY: I never asked my parents about it while they were alive. It might have been when we visited my dad’s sister in Los Angeles. It’d be fun to try to find the spot again, but I’ve not been to Mexico since. (Playing Herb Alpert records doesn’t count.) What example comes to your mind?
JEAN: First, a bit of backstory. The U.S. Army drafted my dad in 1960, right out of the University of Washington medical school. His young family ended up in a little town just outside Stuttgart, Germany, where we lived for the next three years. Every summer, we tooled around Europe in a VW van, from Greece to Norway, once with my grandparents in tow. And dad took thousands of color photos, including this one in Venice, with his trusty Zeiss Ikon.
CLAY: Hmm, you’re making me think of Paul Simon.
JEAN: Right on: “Kodachrome”!
CLAY and JEAN (singing together): “Give us those nice bright colors / Give us the greens of summers / Makes you think all the world’s a sunny day.”
JEAN: It’s been a gas enlisting photographers to shoot “Now” photos in roughly the same spots. In-person visits might not be possible in coming months, but these repeat images fire the imagination and anticipate our return to “normal.”
Readers, we encourage you to submit your own photos of early-day, treasured vacation moments. We’ll feature them at PaulDorpat.com and select several to appear in this column at summer’s end. Email them to VicariousVacationPix@gmail.com. As with our own vacation snaps, we’ll track down photographers from around the world to reshoot “Nows” of your “Then” vacations.