Today, I’m launching a new blog series: What’s in your Closet? Through these posts, I’ll illustrate the stories and connection that are waiting in closets for their re-discovery. Like an old album that has you comparing photos across generations.
Here’s how it started.
Shortly after my hubby and I got back from Yosemite National Park, I returned to my procrastinated project of scanning my in-laws’ old photo album. (This one was too dilapidated to send to the Memory Factory). Imagine my surprise when I came upon pictures taken at the same National Park over 60 years ago.
I thought it might be fun to compare a 1950s trip to our 2017 trip. You probably have something similar. Family reunions, traditional vacations taken a generation apart, wedding pictures. What’s the same? What’s different?
Yosemite National Park: Then and Now
My husband’s grandparents, Ray and Dorothea Hedgecock, didn’t label or caption their photos, so some of the reconstruction is guess-work.
We’ll start with their mode of travel and accommodations.
My mother-in-law supplied the color: green. She should know. After Ray and Dorothea drove the car for a few years, they passed it down to their son and daughter-in-law.
The family has fond memories of the trailer. Ray and Dorothea traveled the country with the little trailer and my husband spend the summer of 1980 living out of it (or its successor) in Wyoming. To be truthful, Ray took as many pictures of the trailer as he did his wife, so I think he was pretty proud of it as well.
Our vacation was a little different—an add-on to a business trip. Hubby met me in San Jose, California. He rented the car, and, perhaps having some premonition of comparing our trip to one of the past, booked us in the 50s era Flamigo Motel. (Not to be confused with the Flamingo Hotel –that one is in LasVegas. )
Looking at the website, I was dubious—the lot next door consisted of nothing but a huge bill-board. But, the promised pink neon flamingo on the side of the building was kind of cool and it had a simple throw-back charm, with its pink doors, rose bushes, and a mid-century version of a funky style.
Yosemite Valley: Comparing Photos
According to the NPS’s history timeline, they could have experienced one of the following:
1954 – the first year that annual visitation exceeded 1 million people
1955 – a substantial flood
1956 – the opening of the New Yosemite Lodge (the old one was demolished)
From Dorothea’s short sleeves and the trailer’s open windows, I’m assuming they visited during warm weather. However, I doubt they encountered the crowds we did in August of 2017, when we shared the park with over 600,000 other visitors.
The above cell phone photo shows our rental car’s average speed of 5 mph forty-five minutes after leaving Yosemite Village—and we waited until 6 pm to leave!
We’re not sure where Dorothea and Ray’s stood to take their picture of the Merced River. We’re not even positive that it is the Merced river, but the low stone wall makes us think it is. We saw it slow and placid near El Capitan, and turbulent as we approached Vernal falls.
It was assuredly easier in the 1950s to crop out all the other tourists when snapping a shot of the Yosemite falls. The volume of the falls looks breath-taking. Whether it was because they were visiting the park in May or June, when the snow melt from the mountains swells the falls, or whether there was more rainfall that year, they definitely saw more water going over the rocks.
And the vantage point is terrific. I wish we’d taken that hike!
Taking a vacation to enjoy nature, in many ways, hasn’t changed that much. There are more crowds now, and I’d guess the park draws more international tourists than it did in the 1950s. But that’s part of the fun of it. Regardless of generation or nationality, everyone is there to look at the beautiful surroundings.
The biggest difference I notice is the sheer number of photos. I don’t know how long Ray and Dorothea stayed in Yosemite, but only a handful made it to the photo album. (And many were of the trailer.) I wonder, did they take more, but they didn’t come out? Did they not take their camera hiking?
What’s in your closet? What’s waiting to be shared? How do the photos you take today compare to the ones your family used to take?
Btw, If you’re looking to get some of those memories out of the closet, Legacy Republic can help. (That’s an affiliate link.)
 “NPS Stats, Yosemite NP,” National Park Service, accessed October 23, 2017, https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/SSRSReports/Park%20Specific%20Reports/Annual%20Park%20Recreation%20Visitation%20(1904%20-%20Last%20Calendar%20Year)?Park=YOSE.