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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

An Object of Affection

Best camera I ever had. No adjustments, no gadgetry…just press the button, indestructible and compact…my Kodak Instamatic.

It was our first summer in Virginia, and the camera was filled with priceless photos and memories from our trip back to Illinois for my father’s second wedding: my daughter as the ring bearer, my children reunited with my brothers, and dad with his siblings from CA who came to see him marry his new wife. There were still a few pictures left on the roll.

Later that summer, the Instamatic preserved pictures from a trip to NYC with my son, 10 and daughter, 7. A native New Yorker and theatre friend took us “parading,” as he called it, to the Empire State Building, Staten Island and Central Park.

My children and I were making new memories together as we explored the East Coast after our move to northern Virginia from a small town in the Midwest.

When we returned to Virginia, I discovered the camera was missing along with all the memories it carried. I knew I could never replace those Kodak moments. Several weeks passed before I received a package from someone who had also been in Central Park during the marathon.

The Good Samaritan found our address in the camera case and mailed the camera to us. So the camera and its treasures found their way home, like a faithful family pet that was lost and then returned.

Later that summer, we were exploring Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and stopped for some ice cream at Swenson’s. With tired kids in tow, I left the camera behind, this time on the booth’s seat at the ice cream parlor.

A couple days later, I realized it was gone along with the pictures from our Baltimore trip. A few weeks passed and I received a call from someone who had also stopped for ice cream, found the camera and dropped it off at our home. Once again the camera was reunited with our family.

I never lost the Instamatic after that summer when we explored our new surroundings. It's now packed away with family albums, slides and other memorabilia.

It preserved the adventures of a single mom and her children adapting to a new life and geography. It was part of the family, and through the kindness of strangers who found it in NYC and Baltimore, the camera made it back where it belonged. Somehow the camera and the memories it saved always returned safely to us.

Objects do evoke memories. Perhaps that’s why we hold onto them. Our inexpensive, uncomplicated Instamatic preserved our family’s history and helped us hold on to those times when we started a new life together.

Copyright © Erana Leiken, 2009 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

New York photo by clemmeson


  1. Uncomplicated is a wonderful thing. For my first Christmas in my first apartment I bought these raggedy snowmen from the dollar store made from stuffed socks. They are kind of hideous but they were affordable. All these years later they have become my favorite most treasured holiday trinket.

    I understand about the Instamatic. I think your kids will too.

  2. Boy, did that photo of the Instamatic with that crazy cube-shaped flash bring back memories. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Hi sis.. Nice little Kodak Camera.. :-) 2times missing but you get it back again.. :-) Like your stories... See ya..

  4. Glad you like them, Eunice. There are more to come:)