Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Dinosaur Murals

To celebrate Preservation Week, I’ll be offering three blog entries this week that offer a personal perspective on some general preservation issues.  This is the second.

Ever since I posted the Stylish Blogger Award entry, I’ve been thinking about the dinosaur murals.

In the mid-1960s, my family moved into a new house on Leo’s Lane in Southampton, NY.  I was only four or five at the time but already in the grips of a dinosaur obsession that, truthfully, exists to this day.  At that time, my favorite book was a Giant Golden Book called Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Reptiles by Jane Werner Watson.  The magnificent color illustrations were by Pulitzer Prize-winning artist Rudolph F. Zallinger.

Inspired by the book’s pictures, my father painted large murals of dinosaurs on the concrete walls of our basement.  He created these murals soon after we moved into the house and they were still there when the house was sold in the 1980s.

During the twenty years we lived in the house, we took hundreds of photographs.  Earlier this year, I went through every single one of those photos and didn’t find a single one that included the dinosaur murals – not even visible in the distant background of a shot.

It’s only natural to take pictures of the big events – the birthdays, weddings, parties, and vacation.  But forty years later, these aren’t necessarily the things that matter most.

Fast forward forty years from now…  At some future point, someone will look back with nostalgia at our lives.  And they won’t just be interested in those splashy special occasions.  They’ll have realized that the ordinary times were special, too.  I wish we had pictures of the trees in my grandparents’ backyard in Riverhead, of my grandfather’s basement workshop in Southampton, and of my childhood bedroom (with its Aurora monster models, the King Kong poster on the wall, and microscopes and chemistry sets strewn across the desk).

I’m glad I have my memories of the dinosaur murals, but, above all, I wish I had one single Polaroid of them.

© 2011 Lee Price

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