Palace Chrysler-Jeep

Don't Rush Me

Some kids wanted b.b.guns . . .

. . . I wanted a camera

December 22, 2010 - Cameras have always fascinated me. I have cameras all over the house. Some work, some don't and they come in all shapes and sizes. Some have polished wood and brass mechanisms. Some fold up into a big leather box, others have metal casings or plastic parts. But, they are all fascinating. (Well, I used to have all sorts, now I have less, since being broken into last fall, but that is another column.)

I like the way cameras look, I like the way they sound -- well, the way they used to sound before everything went electronic. On the old cameras the sound of the shutter shutting, internal mirrors flapping, springs and gears doing their thing came together with a single harmonious "click." And, depending on the sound of that click, you could tell if your old mechanical camera was set correctly. If it sounded right, chances were the picture would turn out okay.

The newfangled computer gizmos all take good pictures. they're handy, can fit in your pocket and they look nifty (when's the last time you read that word?), but I still like the heaviness of an old 35 mm resting in my left palm. I love putting the camera to my left eye, seeing the frame filled with the moment I'm trying to capture, focusing and taking the shot.

When this love affair with the camera began, I cannot recall, but I do remember writing Santa the winter of 1968, asking for one. I remember Santa coming through in the clutch with a shiny new plastic Mickey Mouse Head Camera.

Man, that was a magical Christmas!

That was the year I actually saw Santa's sleigh being pulled by Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer. It was Christmas Eve. sometime around midnight the Rush Clan's 1965 tan Buick Skylark pulled up in front of the red-brick and white sided home on the corner of Berwyn and Orangelawn. Myself and sister Barb were asleep in the back seat. Baby Patricia was just as asleep in Mom's arms. (Yes kids, as strange as it may seem there was a time when the roads were so safe, that nobody used seatbelts, car seats or any other device to prevent injury.)

When Dad picked me up to take me inside I can remember opening my eyes. It was cold and crisp. There was snow on the ground but it was a clear, clear night. I looked up at the stars in the darkness, and right there, way above our Redford Township home, I saw a tiny red light flying. Rudolph. It had to be. Airplane, no it couldn't be. I was five, so Santa it was.

I told Dad I saw Santa (which was a good thing, because earlier in the night Grandpa McDonald said if Rudolph landed on his roof he'd shoot him for Christmas dinner). Dad said we had to hurry up and get inside and to sleep so St. Nick wouldn't pass us by. I don't know if I stayed awake a moment longer. I do remember getting up before the sun, rousing Barb out of the bed below mine and running to the front room to see if indeed Santa had passed us by.

Up to the Christmas tree we ran, and there in the early morning darkness we stood in amazement. Presents! Beautiful presents, all packaged in red and green paper. Maybe we were giggling too loud, or excitedly singing praises to the big guy in red. Whatever the case of our merriment, Dad staggered out of his and Mom's bedroom and out into the hallway.

"Go back to bed, it's too early to open presents," he mumbled and staggered back into his cave.

Whether Barb, 4 and I heeded our father's words, I can't say. I do know, when it was finally time to open presents we went at it with gusto. Fervent believers in the power of Santa (Christmas . . . Christ the son of God . . . Jesus who?) ripping through colored paper and cellophane tape for the promised treasures within . . .

I can honestly say, I do not remember any other present Santa left for me that year, save for the plastic Mickey Mouse Head camera. I still have the camera (it survived the home invasion, 2nd degree). And, some of the pictures I took that Christmas. I remember Dad stopping the Buick at a store to get flash cubes and 120 film for my camera, before making our way down to Grandma Rush's Detroit home.

Like I said, I still have some of the pictures. There's the one of Uncle Gene drinking a beer by the fireplace. There's the one of Aunt Pat drinking a beer in the dining room. There's the one of Grandma sitting daintily, a cold yellow brew in a clear glass tilted to her lips.

I also remember being lectured by Dad for the over- enthusiastic use of my new camera.

Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: don@dontrushmedon.com
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