I am in the process of cataloging, organizing, and weeding my personal bookshelf. It’s a project that is waaaaaaay overdue, as my shelving system is out of control. Waaaaaaay out of control. Two plastic magazine holders are wedged into the conglomeration of hardback, paperback, comics, collectables, and vintage cameras. I’m curious about the contents (and why I’d keep magazines after all of these years), so I move in for a closer look.
I find many photographic titles that I don’t need any longer—How to purchase your first DSLR—but there are gems in here too. Oldies, but goodies! Yes, now I remember. I find magazines from my Toy Camera phase, where I was a guest editor for an image competition. I discover an old issue of American Photo where I was featured as a pinhole photographer. Another issue of a motorcycle magazine features a story written about my father—text, content, and images belonging to someone else.
And then I stumble upon my most cherished of paper memories: IronWorks Magazine, circa 1995, in which I provided the photographic images of my father and one of his custom built motorcycles. This was my first published material, in 1995, and I would have been still enrolled at Pennsylvania State University, just the wee-young lad of my youth.
Goodness, my dad looks so young in these photos. Honestly, I’ve forgotten about this photo shoot until today.
A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots ~ Marcus Garvey
The article is titled Coppin’ the Past, a play on words to reflect the topic of how my father rebuilt police motorcycles, restoring them back to their previous glory of law enforcement. But the content also reflects my father’s story, a personal reflection of how he worked in the motorcycle industry, under the tutelage of his own father. My father taught me an appreciation for the photographic art form, and he’s the reason that I still pursue it today.
He also purchased my first (and last) motorcycle for me around this same year. Barely a young man of twenty-two or twenty-three, I owned a Suzuki motorcycle. It was probably one of the best experiences in my life, barring the big ones like kids and marriage, of course. I worked at Kennywood Park as a college student, and the motorcycle was my primary transportation during the summer breaks at home. I hope that I will never forget the feeling of riding home: along long and winding roads, as my surroundings were consumed beyond the narrow splash of headlight illumination, hot summer heat still heavy in the air, and the cool rush of wind through my clothing.
The freedom of riding a motorcycle is simply indescribable to someone who hasn’t experienced the same thrill of freedom and sense of flying through the air.
As a kid, I didn’t share the same sense of wonder and amazement—actually, it was the complete opposite. I can recall in distinct detail, riding on the back on my dad’s Sportster, arms clutching the sissy-bar seat behind me, as to not fall off during our ride to McDonalds. The twenty minute adventure, through twisted winding country roads, was nerve-racking for me. As my dad leaned the motorcycle into the turns—a gravitational cause and effect of cycling—I forced my body weight in the opposite direction, to counteract the fear of becoming one with the hard pavement. I remember that he was furious, by the time that we arrived at the restaurant, meeting up with my mother and two brothers. Apparently, I was interfering with the natural balance of the machine, real world Earth-off-its-axis type stuff. If memory serves me correctly, I do believe that I rode in the car for the return home.
Right now I’m having amnesia and deja vu at the same time… I think I’ve forgotten this before ~ Steven Wright
There are multiple levels of déjà vu, and similar time travel/repeating your own past revelations, happening here. I am careful with the brittle pages, and quietly reflect on the passage of time—oh my, that’s more or less a halfway point of my life, thus far!
How swiftly those twenty-two years have passed by; how quickly the next twenty-two years will pass me by, just the same! Perhaps my own son will find this personal project of mine, twenty-two years in the future, and recall with the same sense of nostalgia and sentiment: “wow, my dad looked so young back then!”