March 6 – Thoughts about a photo

In Jen Serravallo’s new book, The Writing Strategy Book (Heinemann, 2017) the lesson on pg. 97 called Photo Start. “Look closely at a photograph and try to reexperience the moment it was taken, thinking about what you see, hear, feel, smell, and so on.” Today I pick this photo below seen by holding my eye up close to the megaphone’s smaller opening. Inside I see:

That’s me, sitting with my dad!! The year is probably 1965 or ’66. My dad is in his early 30s. In the background are one-story rental houses. We sit on the sandy beach. I hold the beach bucket. My dad’s soft, terry cloth top keeps him from getting too sunburn. A sweatshirt protects my soft, toddler skin.

I went on an Ocean City website and learned on its history page that “By the 1970s, big business flourished and gave birth to the construction of more than 10,000 condominium units, creating a spectacular sight of high-rise apartments that assured every investor of a glimpse of the ocean and pounding surf.”

This is the Ocean City I know – tall skyscraper lining the beach, looking like this:Screen Shot 2017-03-05 at 9.14.01 PM.png

Yet, my 3-year old self enjoyed the wide beach and the walk back to the one-story rental house. I bet my dad carried me there at the end of the day. I snuggled up against his soft, terry cloth cover. I slept well after a day of breathing the salt air and having the ocean breeze wear me out. Then, as the sun rose over Atlantic, I arose. Back to the beach, I toddled to build a sand castle.

“Would you like a picture,” a voice said.

“Sure. Sit with me, Sally. Say cheese!”

“Cheese!” I repeated.

This writing idea and more are listed on my 2017 March Writing Challenge Inspiration Padlet.


12 thoughts on “March 6 – Thoughts about a photo

  1. margaretsmn says:

    This is such a sweet look at your 3 year old self. I have a similar picture with my 30 something dad. It’s not in that cool little scope, though. Thanks for sharing.


  2. cindaroo42 says:

    I love this memory! I like that you focus on your 3-year old perspective here. What it is like to enjoy this beach. Great details! I feel like I can reach out and touch your dad’s terry cloth shirt.
    Is it summer yet?


  3. lynnedorfman says:

    Photos are a great way to get going with a writing piece. I always had my students bring one in (giving them four weeks to collect one), and then we told the story behind our picture before we wrote it. “Every Picture Tells a Story” hung on the hallway wall by my classroom right before parent conferences. The parents loved reading them, too.

    Your piece is a great model for students. You did some research, and you imagined some of it – “I bet my dad would have carried me there.” It makes me want to hop in the car and drive to the Jersey shore!


  4. wordjourneysite says:

    I love that your Dad was at the beach with you, keeping your 3-year old self safe and snuggling you into his terry-clothed arms at the end of the day. I remember the beach “back in the day” and would enjoy reading more about your memories of it.


  5. caroline524 says:

    This has given me an idea for a future post because I have some of those small “megaphones” with old pictures. I love how you were able to give details about the day. Great job.


  6. msosterman49 says:

    I saw a tenderness in your writing that reaches out to the reader. It makes the reader see and feel a father daughter connection of deep love. While reading I couldn’t help for a moment remembering a time that I sat with my father as a two or three year old while he drew pictures of me. Thank you for giving that to me today!


  7. vendija723 says:

    I love that you went back and did research about how the area was then and how it’s changed. Also, I hope it’s okay that I’ve been adding to your padlet! I really like the ideas you’ve collected there!


  8. Frances A Mccrackin says:

    I love this little piece. I remember those photo-horns or whatever they are called. And you brought such sweet details- snuggling into your dad’s terry-cloth shirt was dear. You brought the harsh sun, clean white clothes, and the fresh sea air to life, as well as the short walk back to the rented house. Without this little photo, would you ever think of all that? What a nice exercise.


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