Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its seventh year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

September 27, 2012

4th AVENUE (OOPS)

WITTNAUER FESTIVAL-STEINER 45MM-EKTACHROME-ISO 80*
... downtown anchorage, alaska, circa 1959-60* ... "4th avenue" looking west (not "5th," a mistake i just discovered), this was it, the very center of the "modern" civilization that was beginning to become more and more an integral part of alaskan culture ... here you see cars, gaudy neon lights, even a new high-rise building blocking the view of the mountains rising from the edge of the city limits ... not visible are some of pa's pals who had staked out eighty acres, constructed one-room log cabins with dimensions of at least twelve by fourteen feet, and settled down in the rugged wilderness to establish their legal claims to land under the homestead act ... i can recall that the skyline of the city was visible  from at least a few of these simple homes ... we lived at the base of the mountains ... now all housing developments, then the pristine slopes were the edge of a primeval forest so deep and dark that after a friend of our family entered it to hunt bear and failed to return, all the searchers found of him was  one of his gi issue boots ... of course, our never-failing-to-be-out-of-control imaginations, fueled by the hushed conversations of adults, filled in the rest of the picture ...

... one evening mike and i were walking with pa along 5th avenue, probably keeping him company while he was completing one of his "this for that" transactions ... moose antlers for box of film, an obscure mechanical car thingy for another equally obscure thingy, the sort of wheelin' and dealin' for which he was famous, at least in our minds ... a couple of drunks staggered out of one of the bars and turned right into us ... i immediately moved into pa's shadow, like an infantryman tucking up behind a mighty sherman tank, but mike never budged from his path ... one of the inebriates stepped off the curb to get around us, but the other shot out his arm to shove my brother ... to this day i remain amazed that i've no "replay" to analyze ... in one frame of my little mental movie i am moving to use pa as a blocker, i can even see that i'm reaching out trying to yank my stupid brother to safety, in the next frame we've walked by a grown man who seems to be trying to put his face through a wall ... the absolute weirdest part of is that pa never let go of whatever it was that he was holding, and mike seemed to quite casually accept the event as being boringly routine ... for me, bumping into lampposts and cars as i tagged along with my head turned so i could look backwards, it was yet another proof that i'd no need for comic book heroes, super or otherwise ...

*car fans, of course, are free to apply their identification skills towards refining this date

... a postscript ... much of what you see here was destroyed by the good friday earthquake of 1964 ... with a magnitude of 9.2 the cataclysmic event remains the second most powerful measured earthquake in recorded history ...

U.S. ARMY PHOTOGRAPH
... an even more fascinating postscript ... here is the exact spot from which pa took the picture at the beginning of this entry ...