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November 26, 2019
A Piece of Time
It was 1969 in Ulm/Neu Ulm, Germany. Three Air Force friends were waiting to depart and begin their journey back to civilian life. Terry Groat, Worth Reis, and Richard Findtner were saying their last good-byes.
I feigned sleep. I did not want them to see me cry. I tend to hold on; to people, things, memories, romantic ideas, stuff like that.
In one of Worth's bags or trunk lockers was a photo album titled, "A Piece Of Time". While stationed together I learned to use a camera, process film, and print pictures. I gave him the album as a memento of our time together.
I forgot all about it. I do not remember taking the pictures, or printing them or even assembling the album. Those moments are lost to me.
Worth, however, kept the album all these 50 years. Wow. We recently met for the first time again in Bandon, OR. He brought the album with him so I could page through it and we could share our thoughts about those days.
The album has seen better days. Some of the pictures are faded, losing their original crispness. A few are poorly printed by yours truly, but, hey, I was young, and not too experienced in the art of the process.
I took pictures of the pictures, doctored them up some but not much. I want them to show as they were/are. It gives that time a sense of place. It gives them the piece of time that it was.
I must say, I had the seed of photo-journalism even then. I did not know it at the time. Working at the Milwaukee Journal while going to photography school, and rubbing shoulders with Buck Miller, Steve Lilligren, and Gebhardt, whose first name I cannot recall, probably helped.
And that's the backstory on that little number. Our own piece of history, preserved. Terry Groat is no longer with us. He had a heart attack in the '80s. Too young.
Richard Mahlon Findtner is nowhere to be found. Perhaps he doesn't want finding. May your life be good, with valuable memories. Prost! We salute you, Findt.