The Picture Book
The Picture Book
Mae Davenport sat at the curb with her camera in her lap every sunny afternoon in a folding chair watching life go by on Maple Street. This was her home town and, if she ever had to leave it, she wanted to remember it – forever.
She was drawn to this particular spot by the scent of the ovens in Cardinale’s bakery. She knew from experience that if she sat here all day she wouldn’t miss a thing.
After many years her album was full. She had taken photographs for years from this very spot. Pictures with snow piled high along the curb. Pictures of the maple trees in mint green bloom and blazing autumn foliage. Pictures of the M-22 bus that stopped in front of Ernie's hardware store come rain or shine. There was even one of Amy Stoller walking her dog back and forth past the Hollow Leg Saloon across the street, and it brought to mind the tipsy whistlers that greeted her at each passing. Amy’s dog would actually prick up his ears, wag his stubby tail and pull at his leash, urging Amy inside.
She looked back on page after page of extravagant Memorial Day parades, featuring rank upon rank of little leaguers in plastic helmets and knock-off Nikes from Wal-mart. She could track the age of her own two boys and see them grow older year after year. Many of the pictures showed the magnificent life saving equipment from the volunteer fire department and the annual appearance of the Mummers from Philadelphia. She remembered, too, the frightening barrage of ancient Springfields as they fired at the sky to commemorate the names on the bronze tablets that stood outside the American Legion Post 1834 at the corner.
What would she do without her album?
She was tempted, in the beginning, to join the ladies book club. To buy – to read – to discuss and dissect each and every book that Oprah Winfrey recommended. Books by women – for women. It was tempting to be with other wives in the drowsy afternoons sharing the sweet wine or the tea and pineapple upside=down cake, with the comforting rumble of the washing machine grinding away in the basement.
But if she read at all, it would have been the scandalous works of Kurt Vonnegut, Hemingway or Joseph Conrad – and what would the ladies think of that!
No! That's why she sat here. Here, in her folding chair on Maple Street in front of Cardinale’s bakery. Everything that will happen, or ever did happen, happened here.