Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Memories from 20 years ago

For now, I’m an unemployed newspaper reporter and editor. Soon, I will more than likely be an u nderemployed journalist, working whatever jobs I can until one or two of my kids graduates from high school and the business model for news and information adjusts to the realities of the Internet age.

This morning, I was putting a load of laundry into the washer when I decided to check into my Ohio River archives to see if I had a certain document that would help me write one or more books that have been in my head for a while. They’re the kind of books that even if they sell a dozen copies, I want for my descendants to have in their hands. As I have the time, I might as well write.

So I looked for that document, and I found much, much more. Among other things, I found a bag containing a dozen boxes of Kodachrome slides from the 1980s.

There were slides I shot of the first trip of the Mississippi Queen this far up the Ohio River, in 1985. There were some of the old locks at the Gallipolis Locks and Dam during dewatering and repair operation the following year. Some showed the old towboat Valvoline, the one in use before the one now bearing that name, in the winter of 1986-87. I saw boats of the old M/G Transport Services and the Ohio River Company.

Best of all were the photos of a weeklong trip in 1986 that I called the Ohio River Road. I drove both sides of the Ohio, from Point Pleasant to Pittsburgh to Cairo back to Point Pleasant.

Those photos include the sternwheeler Donald B at Ripley, Ohio. There was the tree at the mouth of the famous cave at Cave-in-Rock. I wondered if the old store at Golconda, Ill., or the one along U.S. 60 in Daviess County, Ky., are still there. I seriously doubt the one at Golconda is, and I kind of doubt the old building in Kentucky is still there. I hope I’m wrong.

There was Lock and Dam 52, with the wickets up and a boat locking through. There was Lock and Dam 53, with the wickets down and an upbound and a downbound boat taking turns going over the navigable pass.

And there were photos of the Cannelton Locks and Dam up close, as a contact who lived near it took me to the locks in his boat. And there was a view of the Cannelton Locks and Dam from a hill in Kentucky.

One thing I learned from looking at those slides was that I didn’t take enough notes, and I have to match slide numbers with other clues to determine what dam or bridge or part of the river I’m looking at. I had to determine that one of the dams I stopped at was Newburgh and one was Smithland.

If I decide to write that book or those books, I’ll have to convert those Kodachrome transparencies to digital format. For now, as working copies, I could put my Olympus on a tripod and take photos of the slides projected on a screen. Sooner or later, I'll need to get a pro-quality scanner.

There are many, many more slides and prints in my collection. I’ve been shooting with SLR cameras since 1976. Going through them all is going to be a lot of work and a lot of fun.

Eight ducklings

This morning, in the middle of a set of errands, my youngest and I stopped at Harris Riverfront Park to feed three bagels and a bag of bird seed to the geese and ducks there. We were surprised by a mama duck and eight little ducklings. Eight cute, entertaining ducklings.