Essays

Memory Lane

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Once upon a time the residents of Carpenter Country lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. When that snowy western state was abandoned for the sunny south, a roll of undeveloped film made the journey in the glove compartment of the car.

The film included snapshots of our home, as well as elk, moose, deer, lakes, rivers, creeks, the beautiful Teton mountains, kids proudly displaying rainbow trout, snow banks too high to climb and wildflowers too numerous to count.

Our arrival in Carpenter Country was chaotic and the film lay forgotten in the heat of the car’s glove compartment for six months. When someone thought to retrieve it, there were no pictures left to develop.

For 35 years the absence of photos from a place we’d once lived evoked feelings of discord. Somehow the journey of our lives felt incomplete without those pictures pasted in a photo album.

Then a few months ago we decided to take a trip west–and one of the stops along the way would include Jackson Hole.

Cameras at the ready, we set off.

We arrived to find the Jackson Hole we’d captured on the original roll of film much changed. Like many other places in America, the small town had experienced a growth spurt.

But a few things remained the same. Our street was still there. And our split-level, though crowded by a Best Western, looked only slightly different due to the addition of a garage.

So we took snaps as fast as the shutter would blink. And this time we remembered to have them developed when we got home.

At last harmony has been restored. The long-ago lost photos couldn’t be regained, of course. But new ones of the old homestead, as well as the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Salt Lake City, have been added to the albums.

Even better, in the process of recapturing the memories of yesterday, we had the pleasure of creating tomorrow’s.

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