One of the gifts that I’m most grateful for is my memory. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but my earliest memories are from pretty young age (four or five), and based on the accounts of those who were older at the time, many of my recollections have been accurate to some degree. It can be a blessing and a curse. Remembering things can be great when it comes to things like relationship-building, and relating positive or humorous common experiences shared with loved ones.
A strong memory can be a bad thing when it comes to burying the hatchet. I’m humble and realistic enough to admit that I know I’m not perfect and have done bad things, probably as often unwittingly as on purpose. At the same time, I’m not a sucker, so even if it means that I swallow whatever pride may be necessary in delivering or accepting an apology, mental notes are still to be taken to try to avoid finding myself in the same situation again. I’m fine with an exchange of apologies and subsequent burning of bridges, if it means my survival or another benefit that’s significant on some level.
I love vintage games shows, and I’ve come to realize that the ones I like best often employ an element of memory as a skill. I’ve recently been watching old episodes of both “Concentration” from 1976 (above) and “Classic Concentration” from 1988. The former is simply fantastic on so many levels, for reasons that include a shiny, orange first-year Chevrolet Chevette as the grand prize and the dry, suave humor and clipped mannerisms of underrated host Jack Narz. Mr. Narz was pretty close to how I would want to be as a game show host, with his restrained-but-engaging sense of fun, economy with words, and direct way of keeping things moving. Narz’s younger brother, Tom Kennedy, was also a game show host, so apparently that set of skills ran in their family.
Alex Trebek did a decent job of hosting in the ’80s reboot, but he tended to persist with asking a lot of personal questions when introducing a new contestant. I often mentally project myself into such hypothetical scenarios. “So, is there a special lady in your life?” “No, Alex.” “Really? A nice-looking, young man like you doesn’t have a wife or girlfriend? Any special female you have your sights on?” “No, Alex. Do you see this earring? Do you know what it symbolizes? Do you have any other questions?” I’m the duke of diplomacy, but even I have my limits.
The premise of “Concentration” for those unfamiliar is similar to the board game Memory, which involves skills with matching similar objects (prizes) on a giant gameboard. There’s a giant puzzle behind the gameboard featuring a combination of pictures, letters and numbers that when pronounced phonetically and in order, reveal a popular or familiar phrase or saying. The solver of the riddle then earns a chance to win a new car. “We’ve seen that one before,” is a phrase commonly heard during game play.
At the end of last March, I was walking eastward on a local, neighborhood street after work when I saw this classic Thunderbird heading toward me. This might have been my first classic car sighting of 2019. In the moment, I was focused strictly on getting a few, decent shots of it, but I had a mental bookmark in the back of my mind. Just three years prior, I had both photographed and written about a ’65 Ford Thunderbird Landau in motion on this very same stretch of asphalt, except it had been traveling in the opposite direction.
That car was black, and even though this one was green, the thought did occur to me that it might have been the same car with a respray. The C-pillar, however, indicates that unlike that other Blackbird, this green example was not a Landau submodel. It was one of over 42,600 base model hardtops sold for ’65, out of almost 75,000 total (better than half, at around 57%). A convertible was also offered in base trim, with about 6,800 finding buyers. The rest were either Landau hardtops (21,000 units) or Limited Edition Special Landaus (4,500 unit). In terms of domestic competition, the Buick Riviera, then in its third model year, sold roughly 37,700 units with a starting price roughly 2.3% lower than the base Thunderbird.
In the midst of sheltering-in-place during the current COVID-19 pandemic, my weekly activities have also produced a sense of déjà vu. I’ve rewatched many of the DVDs in my collection, with only a handful of them still remaining unviewed. I have settled into a comfortable routine, both during the week and on weekends, as there’s only so much variety that can occur, with or without the assistance of technology, within the walls of my home.
This growing sense of familiarity isn’t the worst thing in the world, and if anything, all this extra time in front of my computer has given me a chance to revisit many photographs I had taken and not done anything with previously. I thus have been able relive those moments as captured in pixels on the monitor front of me. I look forward to a time when I can once again go about my business with my camera strap slung around my shoulder, waiting for the next opportunity to photograph an interesting car on the move. I would perhaps take the next, and third, ’65 Thunderbird photographed on this particular stretch of Bryn Mawr Avenue as some sort of sign. We’ll see.
Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois.
Friday, March 29, 2019.