Memory Box

January 12th, 2012

My nephew Ken, who’s the most familial member of my far-flung family, just sent me a CD of images he scanned from my parents’ picture box.  Some of them really misted me up.

The photo above of my mom and dad, looking so young and strong and in charge of the world, was taken (I believe) just after they were married and were departing for their honeymoon.  (I may be wrong about this, but that’s what I want it to be.) During a long and occasionally bumpy marriage, my parents were pretty much crazy about each other, and this picture really captures that.

Looking through these pictures, it seems to me that my mother and father put quite a bit of themselves into making sure our lives got off to the best possible start. Here I am, about to defend my (third???) birthday cake from my brothers, Mike and Pat, still in post-larval stage. (It might actually be their birthday cake, but I remember all birthday cakes as mine.)

I know these pictures have limited interest for anyone who’s not in them or who, like my nephew Ken, hasn’t guarded and protected them, but tough.  I’d forgotten most of these existed, and here they are.  Images of another world.

My mother, looking like she knows the peace among the three of us is about to expire.  My brother Pat, now the author and illustrator of something like 100 children’s books, is on the left and Mike, now, of course, a painter (and cartoonist) is in the middle.  I am, as always, playing to the camera.  My mom’s hair is so big-band singer.  She always had style.

Prior to meeting my mother and settling down, my father led an adventurous life, heading for China and the Philippines when barely out of his teens (I stole part of that story for Poke’s much less-sympathetic father in THE FOURTH WATCHER) and then realizing that what he wanted to do was fly.  When mom and dad were first married, World War II was on, and he worked up at Andrews Air Force base, test-piloting dangerous and unfinished airplanes.  I love this photo.

And here he is, much later with one of our infinite number of dogs.  Don’t remember this one’s name, and I have no idea where this house was — looks like Maryland.

For my mother, whose own mother had traced their family tree back to an enormous number of very important historical figures whom I had never (and still have never) heard of, Washington was just the place for her to luxuriate in being a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and I believe it was in this capacity that she met Mrs. Nixon.  She always loved this picture, and I love it, too.  It’s so Republican.  I also have a kind of sympathetic affection for Mrs. Nixon as the long-suffering wife of Sauron of Mordor and the subject of my favorite headline of all time, from the Los Angeles Times:  CAN’T STAND PAT, NIXON SAYS.

Just a few more, and the hell with chronology.  Here they are, looking really California, with me — I’m pretty sure it’s me, because Pat and Mike were a matched set.  I love the way my mom looks in this one.

Of course, one of the perils of parenting is the fact that a child who begins life like this . . .

. . . can, despite all the love in the world turn into something large, hairy, and chemically cheerful, like this.

In spite of it all, my parents managed to retain their joy of life, and this is the way I best remember them: laughing.

Every family has one person who’s in charge of the “connection” DNA, and in mine it’s my wonderful nephew Ken, who keeps touch with all of us from distant Iowa. Without him, I probably never would have seen these again.  Thanks, Ken.

23 Responses to “Memory Box”

  1. EverettK Says:

    Thanks for sharing, Tim. I’ve been one of the family historians in my family, and as such have collected, scanned, and gone through more photographs than Allah has Believers. After a while, it REALLY gives you a “sense of time,” as it relates to peoples lives, and how similar the basic human experiences are for all of us.

  2. Julie Evelsizer Says:

    Limited interest? Bah. I loved the pictures. The only old pictures that don’t interest me are of people and their families who don’t interest me.

  3. Mae Mougin Says:

    Thank you for posting the picture of your parents. I see you so much in your Father’s face. Honored that I got to meet both of them with you.
    sending love, as always to my favorite writer.

  4. Shirley Wetzel Says:

    I’m the “Ken” in my family. I have several family albums in my FB photo section, with photos dating back to my great-great grandparents. It has been a joy to share these with family members who haven’t ever seen most of the photos. I love other people’s old photos too, especially as they show the family going through time as yours do. Love that “chemically cheerful” photo of you 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Sheri Says:

    Hi Tim,
    Thanks for sharing these wonderful photos. You look so much like your mom. I loved this post.

    My family has a Ken, too. 🙂


  6. Bill Crider Says:

    Great photos, great memories. Thanks for letting us have a look.

  7. Suzanna Says:

    Ahhhhhhhhh what a wonderful treat to see you and your family in the early years. Who knew, you were a blondey?! Such a cutie : ) They are terrific photos, Tim, thanks for sharing them and thanks, Ken, for taking care of them.

  8. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    What a beautiful couple, dad looks like he was a charmer, and how adorable you guys were. I assume you are the oldest? I love old family pictures because they are so evocative of a different time, and place. Thank you for inviting us in.

  9. michael hallinan Says:

    Hi Tim,
    There is nothing wrong with your memory-all birthday cakes were yours. The dog’s name was Deacon and he ran away, probably to a home that SHARED birthday cakes. Thank you for sharing these photos; I know it doesn’t come easily. Your little brother (the one in the middle) Mike

  10. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hey, Mike — How do you remember Deacon’s name? Just one dog among many to me, although at the time I’m sure he felt like the greatest dog on earth, as they pretty much all do. And you’re wrong, every birthday cake was NOT mine, although when one wasn’t, I made people pay for it.

    Hi, Lil, and thanks for the kind words about my wonderful parents. Weren’t they great-looking? And I was born first, but Mike is the oldest, by years and years.

    Zanna, so glad you saw them. Maria knew them pretty well, I think, although my memory isn’t the world standard. M y hair was blond and cute then, but like so much else it’s been all downhill from there.

    Hi, Bill, and thanks. I hadn’t seen them in years and years and had no idea where they were until Ken mentioned them. He actually gets all the thanks.

    Sheri, thanks for stopping by, and every family with a Ken in it is a lucky family. My mom was the glue that sort of kept us connected while she was alive, but now it’s Ken.

    Shirley, having spent time on your Facebook page, it’s no surprise to me that you’re your family’s Ken — your pride in your kids and grandkids is all over the page. (And I love the card your grand-daughter made you.)

    Mae, how great to hear from you — and all who actually met them. Your own family was not exactly made up of slouches, so the kind words mean extra.

    Julie, “Bah?” Why don’t I ever think of that word when I need it? I actually had no expectation people would find this interesting — I had the pictures and I just wanted to do something with them. I think I’m going to use some more of them to illustrate a fictional account of my childhood. I had to fight off some captions that were just completely untrue, and I might decide to give into them and see where it leads.

    Everett, it doesn’t surprise me that you’re the photo historian in your family — your organizational powers are fearsome. Glad you liked these — something about the light back then looks different, doesn’t it?

  11. EverettK Says:

    🙂 Good to hear from you again, Michael. It truly takes a brother to slip that knife in so surprisingly swift and deep… 🙂

  12. Gary Says:

    Lovely memories!

    You don’t ‘arf look like your Dad, do yer?

  13. Glenn W Says:

    Hey Tim…
    What a hoot. What a gift. I love that memory stuff and delighted you shared it. Never apologize for inviting folks into your family,into your heart. I think your mom and dad would be moved to know you speak of them with such fondness.
    Your pics brought to mind some of my own memories of you and your family(they go back over fifty years). All good stuff.

  14. Shirley Wetzel Says:

    Tim, is Mike a “pretentiously” brother or just a regular brother? My pretentiously sister’s birthday is Sept. 9 and mine is the 11th and we always had to share a birthday cake – now THAT really sucks!

  15. Larissa Says:

    My cousin Ericka is the counter to your cousin Ken. She’s done a lot of work scanning, tracking down and archiving old photos of the family and the such. She really loves the work-and it’s such a funny contrast to who she presents herself to be-a free-wheeling, 18-wheeler hitchhikin’ hippie who makes a living out CA doing all those things we get in trouble for here. (c: I’m glad to have her on the family team because if she didn’t do, no one really would and it’s a shame to lose that history. Great photos!

  16. Ruth Sparks Says:

    Enjoyable nostalgia?–YES!! Thanks to brother Mike for sending a reply! Some prose for children is hoped for from author/illustrator brother Pat as his reply. Please add the word “famous” to your saying that Mike is “artist”(“cartoonist”). WOW–a trio of famous brothers and a wonderful nephew, Ken (probably also famous). Thanks for sharing the delightful photos and your inimitable Tim commentary!!

  17. Why I Love to Blog « Debbi Mack: My Life on the Mid-List Says:

    […] I’ve really enjoyed reading the following posts, in no particular order: Mariam Kobras, Timothy Hallinan, D.B Grady and Zoe […]

  18. Sharai Says:

    Gary got it right! You’ve got his spirit too! It seems that when your fond of someone you can’t help but like their family.

  19. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Gary — some say I look like my mom and others, my dad. I always personally believed I was a changeling, kidnapped from some royal nursery.

    Glenn, it’s so great to have people here who actually go back that far with me and my family. My parents always insisted that the house was open to any friends we wanted to bring home, which was probably, now that I think about it, a strategic decision to keep us in plain sight.

    Shirley, Michael is the son of both of my parents, and he would have been my real brother had I not been kidnapped from some royal nursery, perhaps in some down-at-the-heels country in the Balkans, where the royal family was one weak heir away from unemployment insurance.

    Riss, it’s always great to hear from you. Bless your niece Ericka, my nephew Ken, and all the other preservers of family history. It’s such a service to the negligent, such as you and me.

    Ruth, it amazes me that all three of us wound up in creative fields. My father was a brilliant storyteller who improvised long, intricate, operatic, continuing bedtime stories for us (the three leading characters had the same first names as we did) and my mother was a painter and a frustrated actress, but the anticipation, I think, was that we’d all grow up and go into business like almost everybody else. Instead, we’re all scratching away on paper or canvas for a living.

    Debbi, thanks for the mention.

    And Sharai, last but never ever least, Gary LOVES to be agreed with, probably because it happens so seldom. And thanks for being fond of all of us. We all could use a little more fondness.

  20. Jessie Says:

    Tim, thoroughly enjoyed these photos. Post more!

  21. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Jessie, will do, as soon as the firestorm Robb ignited has died down. And thanks a lot for the comment.

  22. leigh Says:

    How lovely to see the photographs of your family. I’m sure I have some, especially from the LaJolla days, but I never look at photobooks. This was a treasure.

  23. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Hi, Leigh —

    You were actually probably in the room when the chemically cheerful picture was taken. I’m pretty sure that was a Fried La Jolla day.

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