Rolled and Waiting

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Dad served in the US Army. Several years ago he, when he was still healthy enough to climb the stairs in the house, he gave me a rolled up photo of his regiment. He had shown me this photo several years before that, carefully unrolling it he pointed out where he was in it. The photo is one of those long black and white photos like the one that Grandma West had of her high school trip to Washington, D. C. This time the photo was dryer and fought being unrolled, I gave up and left it in its curled up condition. I  didn’t want it to get damaged during my trip back to TN so I took 2 clean, empty Campbell soup containers and a piece of construction paper and created a metal tube for it to stay safe in.


It has been in my office ever since, all rolled up with its metal jacket on. This past summer, when helping mom clean out some of dad’s things, after his death, we found a second version of the same photo. Wrapped even tighter, if that was possible, around a heavy brown cardboard tube. It was so dried out that there was no way it was going to unroll. I studied it carefully and noticed something on this version that the previous did not have, many names of the soldiers were written on the back.


I brought it back to Memphis and now it is sitting on my coffee table, waiting like the first version. I just had to figure out how in the world to get the picture flat. Web searches turned up a method to help get the moisture back in and the photo flattened out. I would need a plastic container that would seal and hold a bowl of water and my rolled up photo. I would also need blotter paper, once I had the photo hydrated, it would absorb excess moisture while it flattened out beneath books that will weigh it down.


Finding blotter paper wasn’t as easy as I thought. I went into the local hobby shop and looked all over, no blotter paper. I stopped at the local business paper shop and got the oddest look from the clerk. “I need blotter paper,” I told him, “you know, the refills that would go in a desk set?” He led me down aisles, weaving his way to the back of the room and stopped. He showed me plastic covers for your desk.


The web would surely have blotter paper. At Amazon I found it, ordered the largest size they had so as to not have any other marks pressed into my already delicate photo. The next day the phone rings and a pleasant female voice announced that the item number I wanted had been cancelled. She searched and found a replacement, slightly smaller version in a different color. The hitch was, she couldn’t place the order for me on the phone, I had to log back in and make the change myself, although she gave me the new item number.


Now I wait again, for the delivery man to drop off at my door the blotter paper. Maybe this week I can get started on flattening the photo out. One of these days, after flattening, I will post the photo and the names of the soldiers that were in the service with my dad during the Korean conflict.


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