This week’s assignment: “Yours are the sweetest eyes I’ve ever seen.”
-Elton John’s “Your Song”
So, yes, we are talking the camera’s eye here. Among the vintage cameras in my small collection, this Polaroid One Step is special. It used to belong to my Oma, and it was a rather fortuitous stroke of luck that I ended up with it. Last spring, I asked my antiques guru cousin over in Germany to keep a casual eye peeled for a One Step. As it so happened, he was in the process of clearing and selling his mother’s home and had found one from Oma that he was throwing out. He pulled it from the trash, and it became mine. Saved in the nick of time.
That summer when I visited, we spent a night poring over old photo albums, pulling the images we wanted to keep. There were gorgeous black and whites, festive party scenes, faces not yet etched with time. Many were of the American grandchildren, photos which had crossed the Atlantic tucked into the folds of a letter. I recognized my father’s handwriting on the back, listing the year and occasion. Many were Polaroids.
The ultimate party camera, wasn’t it? I put an eye up to the One Step’s viewfinder and closed the other, imagining my grandmother doing the same decades before me. I pictured her entertaining guests as she liked to do, bringing out the Polaroid to capture the merriment. And it was merriment—the photographic evidence is there. Rosy cheeks, broad smiles, mid-dance, schnapps in hand. You can almost hear the music and the laughter in those photos. I pictured her waving the film—the way you do with Polaroids—holding it carefully along the edges, waiting for it to develop, then passing it around for others’ amusement.
Man, what a treasure all those photos are. Growing up, I spent more time apart from my beloved Oma and Opa than we spent together, but somehow now having those snapshots and that camera in my possession pulls me a little closer, lets me see their world as she saw it. And for me, that is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.