I'm a product of the 50's. A boomer. When I was a kid, my Dad, Mom, sisters and I packed ourselves into the wood paneled Mercury for the annual summer road trip. My father refused to fly, so sans seatbelts or air conditioning, we cruised around the western states. My domain was usually the back shelf of the station wagon. With a pillowcase stuffed with our jackets and sweaters for a backrest, I had the best seat in the house. Free from my sisters' swats of annoyance, with a corner office view, I traveled in relative style. (So long as I never wanted to sit up straight.)
Like many families, our Dad lugged a ginormous camera case around everywhere, taking candid shots, posed shots, landscape shots and plenty of shots of snarling, surly teenagers. I believe that over time, we accrued at least 50,000 slides, (still safely stored in round carousels in my mother's cabinets). While my older sisters were camera averse, I was a willing model. I may have gotten the rollaway bed in the adjoining room, but I got star treatment on the set.
Within a few weeks of our return, we'd get together with my cousins' family, and after dinner, the screen would be raised, the carousel projector loaded and we'd all have to look at each family's rendition of the summer vacation. (I often got to push the button on the remote - that was some high tech fun, I'll tell you!) Did anyone actually like those evenings? Teenagers rolled their eyes at the indignity, my middle sister pulled out her book in the dark and my toddler cousins, well, they were in their own world, and didn't care. I was a thespian myself, (my sisters dubbed me Sara Heartburn), so I didn't mind being on screen, but beyond that, in general, the paging through vacation shots was a chore, a bore, a snore and then some.
The term itself evolved into a pejorative slur. Just run around and say "home movies" or "vacation slides" to some unsuspecting 45 year old and see if they don't involuntarily shudder.
Here ye, here ye, vacation pics are making a comeback. I think the difference is, it's voluntary now. The comeback device is Facebook. While I wouldn't go to someone's house for coffee and cheesecake and an evening of home movies, I will willingly look through 50 stills that a vague acquaintance has posted on Facebook. I vicariously enjoy other people's travels. I like seeing how the family interacts, the choices they make in the mix of posed and candid shots. I get insights into other places, often places I would never have the huevos to go to myself. I'm particularly envious of people who manage to join up with another family, travel to either an exotic or rustic locale, make pancakes together and swing leisurely in hammocks. I love seeing all the children, of varying ages, cavorting and getting along (without knowing if they really did or not).
The unpublished pictures (I imagine), are of the Dads pulling out a banjo and singing camp songs while the Moms pass around graham crackers, Hershey bars and marshmallows. So very, very Norman Rockwell.
I consider all this as my own family vacation nears. We've got our eye on Lake Tahoe this summer. I imagine that we'll take pictures of all the iconic spots, the surly teens (2 college freshmen and one 13 year old), and my non-camera shy husband. I'll then include the real life cinema verite on my own Facebook page, get several comments on them, and consider this an old fashioned Home Movies Sharing experience, minus the coffee and cheesecake. (My diet says thanks for that.)
Follow Judy Silk on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JudySilk