I recently had occasion to go back through the Journal‘s archive of online photographs, which dates back to 2002 and was started by then-editor Wendy Coomber. It was something made easier by the advent of digital photography, as I’m sure anyone who has ever sifted through a shoe box full of old print photographs will attest. While printed pictures are a lovely tangible memory, and very well suited to being put into albums, sorting and storing them in some kind of chronological order for easy access is a chore.
The Journal‘s digital archive, however, lays them all out by year, month, and issue, so anyone searching for pictures from an event in, say, June 2007 can find them quickly and easily. Looking through the files, as I did last week, is a trip down memory lane, as well as a vivid depiction of life in our communities over almost two decades: the people and places and celebrations and activities, the events large and small, joyous and sad, that are part of our lives.
Children first pictured as chubby-cheeked youngsters grow older with the click of a mouse. Other smiling faces (people are almost always smiling in these photos) are no longer with us, making me pause and reflect on lives lived.
Graffiti Days, Clinton’s Heritage Week events, the Ashcroft and District Fall Fair, Desert Daze, the Mother’s Day fly-in at Campbell Hill, the Ashcroft Rodeo and Parade, drag races, Canada Day events, Christmas celebrations, Remembrance Day ceremonies, the CP Holiday Train, and many more annual events — some still with us, some sadly gone — are all there, as are concerts, plays, school pageants, and sporting events. Children stagger from an autumn field with pumpkins almost as big as themselves. Soccer and hockey players, dancers, students, actors, singers, and more grin into the camera, their joy palpable.
And so many grip and grins! The grip and grin is also known as a grin and grab, and it’s a picture you’re all familiar with: two or more people standing side by side, fixed smiles on their faces, shaking hands or passing over a cheque (or both). The grip and grin is a staple of small town newspapers, and here they are over two decades, featuring the Lions, Rotary, the Ashcroft and District Health Care Auxiliary, Second Time Around, the Royal Purple, the Legion, the Legion Ladies Auxiliary, Kinsmen, and so many other organizations and businesses, donating to local groups and causes.
In July 1912, R.D. Cumming — who had just taken over as editor of the Journal — detailed several ways that residents could effectively “kill” their town. One of those ways was “Make your town out a bad place and stab it every chance you get.” It frustrates me no end when I see people who live here dissing their communities, often with the lament “Nothing happens here.” The photo archive effectively shoots that argument down.
And while it would be easy to look at the chronicle of events past and feel sad for what’s not happening this year, a glance at this week’s paper shows that we are nothing if not resilient. Graffiti Days and the Ashcroft art show have had to be cancelled and postponed respectively, but organizers are making sure something happens regardless. There might not be grad ceremonies as we know them, but Clinton, Cache Creek, and Ashcroft are making sure our grads will be honoured. The Ashcroft pool will be late opening, but open it will. Our thrift stores are taking the steps necessary to make sure they can once again open, to serve our communities and raise the funds that help so many.
Nothing happens here? Pshaw, and I have 18-years’-worth of photographs to back me up. They also show the heart, the joy, and the love that flow through our communities, and I’m looking forward to adding many more.