I get a visceral tug from this photo. Always.
It was taken in Nenana Alaska in the late 1950s or early 1960s, on a winter day with the sun already sinking, probably about three-thirty or four in the afternoon.
There's something about it that always sort of punches me.
Obviously, today I'm an adult, author of 12+ books living in western Oregon. But on that day, I was probably in grade six or seven, and most likely in that house behind the church when the picture was taken.
I can see myself there, feel myself in those rooms. They smell like supper coming on, probably coffee perking, my dad's cigarette. They sound like Dad's typewriter clatter, my brothers grexing, my sister making baby noises, my mom with the radio on or listening to Broadway music on the tweedy Webcore phonograph.
Who took it? I don't know. I found it on the Alaska Digital Archives site, which I highly recommend.
I've written eight books that take place in or near Nenana and I spend a lot of mental time back there. Homesickness? I don't think so. More like this song snippet from Cheryl Wheeler.
Simply, I know this town.
- Well, I know these streets and these backyards
- This barn that's fallin' down
- We come to where they're building now
- And ride our bikes around.
- You think I'm just a little kid
- Some trouble on the way
- Well I knew that place before you did
- Is all I've got to say.
- I'm only walkin' through these streets and all around
- I'm only walkin' I know this town