When will I learn? Sunday morning I headed off to get a quick coffee at a café just a few blocks from my apartment. It was a short trip so I just threw on an old sweater and jeans. Of course I forgot that this is the first Sunday of the month, which means there is a big street sale in town. It’s everything from antique furniture to cheap plastic jewelry. I realized my mistake when I turned the corner and looked down the street at saw a mass of people. But it was too late, I didn’t feeling like turning back and my coffee was calling to me from my favorite café, which was within sight. I trudged down to the café, which is right where the merchants start so I could go in and out without getting caught up in the madness, I thought. I drank my cherished breakfast drink and decided to take a look at the excitement because IT IS close to Christmas so who knows what I will find. So there I am in an old sweater and jeans, unshaved and I run into everyone. It seemed every 50 feet or so I run into someone else and they are dressed very nicely, naturally.
I’m just coming back to life as the caffeine soaks in and I find just what I’m looking for! In a true Christmas tradition I found something perfect for ME! It was in the form of two small books of photos from 1918-1921. They were taken by the official photographer for the Navy Base in Taranto. All the photos are about 1 inch square. On the cover is listed what is in each book. In one book there are two pages of an official state funeral, one page showing a battleship firing the main guns, one page showing a torpedo being fired, and in the other book there are some of a large three masted sailing vessel, and an overturned boat (just the hull) that is being made into a monument.
I love these old photos because back then they only took photos when something was very important. I worry that digital photography lets us take so many photos that the importance of a photo is completely lost. This photographer was probably very limited on the number of pictures he could take and the angles he could get, etc, etc. The photos he left behind are the best of what he could do at the time. He also mounted them in true military precision in a book of thick black paper. Nothing fancy but then it was just meant for the archives. My favorite book is still the one I found in Monopoli made by a German that traveled from Germany to Los Angeles to Mexico City to Brazil in the 1930s.