|Flag above the old Hamlet Bank Building on Main Street -- taken July 2009|
In a way, it's like the knee bone is connected the shin bone sort of thing in that photo taking and blogging go hand in hand for me. Both serve a purpose and have been instrumental in helping me regain much of my vocabulary that was lost, and the ability to communicate effectively verbally and in writing... again. Articulation has improved greatly, although, there are moments of stumbling and not knowing what or where my brain is going on a retrieval word focused mission. Or, how that will play out orally or off the tips of my fingers. Although, this blog isn't about my personal challenge and struggles in those aresa, it very much ties to ways God has used my passion (and my mother's) for Hamlet's future. It has been a factor in my healing and rehab process. It's much like my work in canine rescue and my hands on tender loving care with my very own special needs rescues. Together they have given me reasons to get up every day. And to face the day along with the unique 24/7 challenges and push on and through while focusing my attention and at times drive, elsewhere. But, enough about that!
There have been some other things to hinder my writing here, but as much as I believe in stating the un-saids at times. Particularly to those we care most about, there are times the un-saids are the only kind and gracious route to take. Just know without going into detail or specifics that my time spent away wasn't wasted and that Hamlet benefited from some of it in one way or another.
So, what actually prompted this blog entry, like out of the blue? Well, the red, white and blue when you really get down to it. And thinking about our glorious nation and a little town that believes it can...
I spent all day yesterday going through Hamlet Fun Day - Fireworks photos that my husband, Steve, has taken over the past three years - 2009, 2010 & 2011. I first concentrated on viewing and processing photos from 2010 that I had not yet taken the time to finish digging through. Reasons explained above. Then, last night I took on 2011's. There were over 500 in all from 2010 and 2011. Thankfully, I got on a fun roll and processed close to two hundred for album sharing. Some of the shots from 2010 I still find very interesting and continue to captivate me. They appear to provoke the same in others, as well, because the comments we've received have been beyond favorable. One even from a dear friend whose an archival/vintage photo expert with ties to Ken Burns, of all people.
Just below is one of the most special from 2010, I think I'm drawn to it because it truly reminds me of days gone by, and simpler times, as well as old Polaroid Land Camera photos that my dad used to take. I am pulled toward the beam of light moving right about 2/3 of the way from a brilliant fireworks blast (not showing) above the in the photo and is strikes down directly aligned with an old telephone pole. As if it were pulled there for some reason, if only to capture my eye! Then, the old pole to the far right, as I've mentioned before in this blog, it's another that reminds me of cross Jesus was crucified on around Hamlet. The smoke makes it all dreamy and almost magically mystifying. And those are only a few things that jump out at me when I look at this photo. People have made jokes at the way I look at and describe photos, but again that's part of the rewiring process for me. I look as closely as possible to discern every detail I can see, and the ones I can't see, also. Each photo has a multiple stories... the one in view... the one that belongs to the one behind the camera... and at times the subject has quite a story, too!
In some ways it reminds me of back in the day of drive-in movies, where all vehicles were pointed in the direction of the big movie screen to watch a new release, or a favorite again and again. It was such fun, inexpensive, simple and casual entertainment to do with folks we enjoyed being around at its *very* best. Much different than these days where everyone is attached to one or multiple techy devices doing their own thing for entertainment while together. Some actually texting each other, rather than talking. Or, communicating with folks off in the yonder, and Lord only knows where that is. Anyway, there is always lots of chatter and movement going on until the show begins. Then, all eyes are focused and glued looking in one direction.
Hamlet's fireworks show is no different. The vehicles you see above are filled with adults of varying ages, teens, kids, babies and in some cases dogs. They have snacks and drinks on hand to make the occasion even more fulfilling. Or, would that be filling? Some folks (and even dogs) are wearing red, white and blue to mark our nation's birthday. The vehicles you see above are filled with smiles, laughter, and gleeful cheering in between hushed moments of expectation and anticipation as they relish in their front row seats. Ooooooohs and ahhhhhhhs are echoing all over! I could go on and on about what these photos represent. But, it's the softness which gives room to my imagination, vs. a shot of a gorgeous work of fireworks art dangling in the air... I prefer the shots with telltale signs of joy filled people where I can envision the colors not reflected...
For the past three years my husband and I have been a part Hamlet's Family Fun Day festivities. The first year, we simply took photos and sat with the hatch raised on the rear of our SUV facing the once a year evening show. It was our first time ever taking pics of fireworks, and believe me, we were amazed that some actually came out. In fact, surprisingly most did. We didn't mingle, but certainly enjoyed people watching. While Steve took photos of fireworks, I took candid shots of people. It was our first time watching the fireworks in Hamlet ever together. And, also our first time watching Hamlet celebrate the Fourth from the area in front of the Hamlet Historic Depot. For me, it provoked memories of the last time I celebrated Independence Day in Hamlet during a visit to my cousin's when I was a girl who'd just turned 16. I loved how the town seemed to gather together to mark our nation's birthday with old fashioned hometown-ish fireworks. Growing up in Virginia Beach, I was used to watching the reflection of large fireworks displays over water, but in Hamlet, I see the reflection in the joy on people's faces. Flash forward 40 years, and honest to goodness, the feelings I experienced four years ago were identical. I guess there are some things in life that don't change the way they affect us regardless of our age. Or, where we've been, or what we've done. The very essence of those things are embraced for a lifetime, embedded in our minds, memories, and hearts. Moments of renewal comes to us in the form of adding to the memories as times moves ahead marked by more special 'never ever forget' times. One memory connects to another, to another. With me they mesh together, but I prefer to keep each in tact as I lived it, otherwise, some of the specialness wears off.
Both the second and third years we were blessed to be able to be a part of the very small volunteer staff manning the Hamlet Historic Depot and the Tornado Building. Both years we had the honor and privilege of working with Mr. Riley Lee Watson. In our opinion, he's Hamlet's most valuable living artifact whose family represents over 200 years of dedicated service to the railroad. As a railroad grandkid and niece, I admire that more than I can even begin to express. It's hallowed common ground. And Riley is always a pleasure and dear to work with any time, but on Fourth of July, it is something that we all have looked forward to doing together. Similar to a family.
This year, however, we aren't going to be a part of things in Hamlet. Hence, the reason I dug through all of our photos related to Hamlet Fourth of July - Family Fun Day Celebrations to put together the album I was unable to create last year, just in the nick of time for this year. In my mind, it was unfinished business, that sorely needed to be done. So, even though we won't be amongst the crowd and mingling a bit with our friends along Main Street, or spending special time with Riley, these photos to us capture the very spirit of the festivities. And even though we won't be there tomorrow night, we will indeed be there in spirit and in our memories, This flash slide show doesn't last very long, in fact for me it moves much too quickly to see all of the detail. But, I've had to set it to auto because the feature when used in blogger can be a bit buggy. And posting 59 photos in blogger would be a bear to do. There are 59 photos in all with the first being the photo which appears at the top of this entry. It's a from a series of several hundred "looking up" perspective shots I did along Hamlet Main Street to capture the amazing roof top and facade architecture which remains to this day from the early 1900s.
Rather than post multiple photos of fireworks hanging in the air, this album was been created not to show off the captivating fireworks, but a community united together to celebrate the birth of our nation. The majority of the shots included of the fireworks show a row of cars actually parked on CSX property. Similar to my husband's shot above. Like that one, it is one of many favorite spots where local folks congregate around the Hamlet Historic Depot area of Hamlet. Cheers can be heard far and wide from the crowd over the loud pop as each pyrotechnic round is shot high into the sky and bursts into a brilliant lightening bug like huge display of various shapes and sizes. Wide eyed grins and smiles appear on all faces in attendance. Then, a silent hush comes over the crowd in anticipation of the next pop! It's a day where Americans can easily focus on the common ground we share with each other. The common ground called freedom gifted to each us through the love of country, work and steadfast sacrifice of our founding fathers, military and public servants and their families.
It's a day we recognize that God has truly blessed America and blessed each of us for allowing us to be born as, or to become Americans. Fourth of July aka Family Fun Day in Hamlet is a day celebrated like many small towns across the nation, where people come together in harmony to remember the freedoms we enjoy have come through battles, blood shed, including the ultimate sacrifice(s), and prices paid by countless patriots for well over two centuries now. Personally, I've seen huge fireworks displays, but small town America captures the essence of this all important holiday in an indescribable way... It's not about amazing firework displays -- it's about folks coming together for one day, enjoying our freedoms together -- how our nation was birthed -- how we got 'here' and forgetting about everything else. On July 5th, we can get back to the business of what tomorrow holds...
Happy Independence Day ~ 2012 ~ to all my friends and loved ones in Hamlet! And with this blog entry, this blogging endeavor comes to a close. I'm not totally ready to say goodbye to Hamlet quite yet, not until we move away forever. But, I am ready to close a 3 plus year chapter in my life.
My thoughts, prayers and hopes for Hamlet's best will continue. To those who mentioned this blog to me and have sent me notes and emails, there aren't enough words to thank you. It's because you that I write this final entry...