Cannot figure how to resize old snapshots to fit

1957 Palm Sunday on Palm Place

“The blue sky with large chunks of grey and white cloud, not actually threatening a storm but suggesting it. The cool sea breeze that seems to slake a thirst deep within your being…”

All these years later, the typed words are clear on the yellowed fragment of school notebook paper. The blue ruled lines have faded, but every keystroke still is clean and sharp.

Smith–Corona meant something then in typewriters, like Winchester in rifles and Singer in sewing machines. American brand–names stood for something in those days.

Kodak was another of those American icons. The emulsion on the Kodak snapshot is browned with time, but the image is sharp and clear, showing a fresh–faced boy sitting proudly behind the ancient Smith-Corona. I was wearing my Sunday sport coat with the Palm Sunday cross, fashioned out of real palm frond, pinned to the lapel.

The black office model Smith–Corona was ancient, even then. Its carriage return was on the right, a design that had been abandoned even then. For the information of those raised in the information age, the carriage return was the metal lever you used to push the carriage back to the left side of the page that you were typing, and to advance the sheet of paper around the roller to the next line, all in one. You could set the lever to single–, or double–, or sometimes even triple–space the lines.

“The bright rays of the sun, coming on an almost horizontal slant from the west, reflecting off the white buildings. The chirps of the birds in the oleander trees. The soughing of the breeze in the palms. The occasional high pitched cries of the gulls as they drift effortlessly, following the coast line…”

The typewriter was a gift from Mrs. Wimer, who lived across Palm Place in a garage apartment similar to ours. She worked in Jacksonville and drove a 1950 Mercury back and forth to the city from our little fire lane, that was less than a block from the ocean. She was the first person I ever knew who had an old car repainted. The Mercury was a ghastly green now. But she liked it. She lived with her shut–in mother, who could not come down the stairs anymore. My grandfather would go over and visit with her mother about once a day, and I could hear her cackle as he told her stories from his sailoring and firefighting days.

I was fourteen when my grandmother told Mrs. Wimer that I wanted to be a writer, and Mrs. Wimer dug out the ancient Smith Corona. She gave it to me on Palm Sunday. I was immediately burdened with the seriousness of my obligation. Now I had to write something.

I looked around me at the upstairs screen porch where my brother and I slept, where we had taken down black curtains from the seaward windows when we moved here in 1954. The curtains were just like the ones my teachers pulled shut to black out a classroom when we were going to see a film. But these had been used to seal off any light from detection by U–boat skippers who lurked offshore to line up Allied shipping in their periscopes against the shore glow. The Germans had called the Atlantic coast of Florida “the shooting gallery” until full blackout was enforced. But none of that registered on me as worth the words then.

“The suddenness with which the tremendous pelicans loom from behind the houses on ocean front to glide by like silent planes. The crowded masses of arctic terns that fly in no particular order, their shrill cries mingling with those of the gulls. The bullet flight of the industrious little sandpipers, their wings a blur…”

I stopped hunting and pecking the keys and sat back, satisfied. My grandmother used her worn Kodak to record the event for posterity that Palm Sunday morning, and then we went to church. I was a writer.

From My First Short-story Collection




Professional writer, Pacific Northwest. 20 Books: “Sleeping Planet” 1964 to “Venus Mons Iliad” 2018–19. Most on Amazon for sale. Il faut d’abord durer.

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Bill Burkett

Bill Burkett

Professional writer, Pacific Northwest. 20 Books: “Sleeping Planet” 1964 to “Venus Mons Iliad” 2018–19. Most on Amazon for sale. Il faut d’abord durer.

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