Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now

This column reflects the opinion of the writer. Learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column.

Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: That guy from the old photo album

Paul Turner at work at the Memphis Commerical Appeal in the early 1980s. (PHOTO ARCHIVE / SR)
Paul Turner at work at the Memphis Commerical Appeal in the early 1980s. (PHOTO ARCHIVE / SR)

If you’ve ever spent time sifting through boxes of old family photos, there’s an excellent chance you have studied a vintage snapshot and asked this question.

“Who is that?”

You can turn it over, but sometimes there’s no name written on the back. And if you have no older relatives who might know, well, you’re pretty much left with one choice: Pass along your boxes of photos to younger family members and let them worry about it.

Of course, this assumes you have pictures that are not already arranged in neat, well-organized, digitized family archives. But if you are old enough, there’s a chance you do. Besides, many of these photo collections get handed down, from one generation to the next. So you do not have to be a senior citizen to possess pictures of people you cannot identify with any degree of certainty.

“Is that Uncle Cuthbert’s common-law wife or just some random woman in a Bloomsday shirt?”

Obviously, it’s a good idea to ID people in pictures when you can. You know, for posterity.

But that’s not really what interests me today.

Instead, it’s this. Have you ever imagined, many years from now and long after you are gone, being that person in the photo no one can recognize?

Ever wondered what people, perhaps living far from Spokane, will say as they hold up a picture of you and speculate about just who you were?

Just imagine the conversations in some distant basement of the future.

“Who is this guy standing in front of the giant red wagon?”

“Maybe he’s your grandfather’s Uncle Cletus.”

“I doubt it. He looks sober.”

“Why is he holding a woodchuck?”

“That’s not a woodchuck. It’s a gopher. Or maybe a groundhog. They had a lot of them in Seattle, or wherever it was this guy lived.”

Maybe all we can hope for is that we’ll look happy and loved to those baffled people in the future. Even if they can’t always come up with our names.

Six ways Spokane seems like a Western city

The number of people here who wear relatively authentic blue jeans as their default uniform, even if a lot of these folks are originally from Montana.

Occasional sightings of coyotes in town.

The urge to own a pickup even if you don’t really need one.

Local definitions of what qualifies as “back East.”

Few residents interested in who your people are or where you went to school.

Lots of candidates for the title of town drunk or stoner.

Your TV-watching personality vs. your real-life personality

Do you ever find yourself viewing some television drama and have this thought about a certain character: “Gee, I hope that guy gets killed?”

Or do you ever find yourself admiring some attractive actor or actress and allow yourself to entertain fleeting fantasies involving carnal knowledge of said performer – even though you are happily married?

Why am I asking? Uh, no reason. Just wondering.

Reading The Spokesman-Review

Coverage of which topic is most apt to make you spit out your coffee? (Not in a good way.)

Names linked to the subject of who is or isn’t running for mayor.

Assertions that the WCC, top to bottom, will be much tougher this season.

Things our congressional representative says.

End note

I asked on what occasion I should first wear my Expo ’74 necktie, presented to me as a gift last year. Here is what a few readers suggested.

Sharyl Read, Jeff Anderson and Chuck Booth recommended I wear it whenever as a bandana or headband.

Linn Edmonson said I ought to wear it to a meeting of the Spokane City Council, at which I could remind that body that sometimes doing what’s right isn’t the same as doing what’s popular. (A reference to the stiff opposition Expo ’74 faced back in the day.)

Wayne Pomerleau proposed that I make my authentic 1974 world’s fair tie a part of my 2019 trick-or-treat costume this Halloween.

Evelyn Gillespie-Paulson urged me to declare a “Just Because Day,” and don the tie then.

William Baxley said I should wear it in the unlikely event that I find myself acting as the grand marshal of an Inland Northwest parade.

Joe Jovanovich suggested I take part in a local annual nudists’ run and wear the Expo tie as my lone article of attire.

And David Townsend urged me to adopt a Ward Cleaver lifestyle and 1950s dress code, incorporating my snappy Expo tie as stylish leisure wear.

More from this author