PHOTO IS A PIC­TURE OF EN­DUR­ING FRIEND­SHIP

The Kansas City Star (Sunday) - - LOCAL - C.W. GUSEWELLE

The most or­di­nary cam­era is an in­stru­ment with un­com­mon ca­pac- ities. In the hands of an artist, it can cap­ture mood, cause beauty to re­main vir­tu­ally im­mor­tal, ar­rest a bird in mid­flight. When em­ployed by a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tor, it can pre­serve ev­i­dence be­yond any pos­si­bil­ity of dis­pute. And even a cam­era of the sim­plest kind, used by the most un­trained am­a­teur, has the al­most mag­i­cal abil­ity to stop time. An ex­am­ple is a pho­to­graph that came to me one re­cent day by elec­tronic mail. The im­age was black and white, a tri­fle grainy. My guess is that it was taken with one of those Ko­dak box cam­eras that were so pop­u­lar in the early half of the last cen­tury. “Cubs” was the only iden­ti­fier on the sub­ject line of the email to which the snap­shot was at­tached. There are four youngsters in the photo — lads maybe 9 or 10 years old, fourth-or fifth­graders — just past the age of short pants, but not by much. It’s an out­door photo, surely taken in the yard of one or an­other of the four. There’s a fruit tree, pos­si­bly a cherry or crab ap­ple, in the right-hand back­ground. And on the left what might be a blan­ket on a clothes­line. The boys, looking pleased and a bit self-con­scious, stand in a line for the pic­ture. Ev­i­dently they are about to em­bark on some sort of out­ing, for their packs are at their feet. I know them. We were mem­bers of a Cub Scout den to­gether, ele­men­tary school­mates and then chums all the way through high school. And I know their later his­to­ries. To see that pic­ture was to ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing like time travel. It took me back more than six decades, and for just an in­stant I was that age again. The one on the right is Kelly. He had a won­der­fully wry and creative na­ture. Af­ter col­lege he went into ad­ver­tis­ing, joined an im­por­tant agency with offices in St. Louis and New York, and ul­ti­mately served as its pres­i­dent un­til re­tir­ing to live in Hawaii. It was Kelly who sent the photo, though heaven knows where he found it. Next to him is Reid, who ex­pe­ri­enced a spurt of growth in col­lege, be­came a ten­nis cham­pion there and in the mil­i­tary, and made a ca­reer in the auto in­dus­try, ris­ing to the rank of vice pres­i­dent of Gen­eral Motors. Be­side him is Ron, al­ways a

thought­ful and stu­dious sort. Very early he took an in­ter­est in hor­ti­cul­ture, be­came a world au­thor­ity on the breed­ing of tulips and has sev­eral va­ri­eties that bear his name. We have spent the greater part of our lives in cities far from one an­other. But friend­ships made in those early years — a time of rich and for­ma­tive ex­pe­ri­ence — do tend to en­dure. As I look at the pho­to­graph, I seem to think I can hear those voices again. Oh, yes, the one on the far left came to adult­hood with no read­ily mar­ketable skill. But he had the luck to find a com­pany that would take a chance on him, and fi­nally keep him. He’s made a life in news­pa­per­ing.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

See­ing this old pho­to­graph of the “Cubs,” in­clud­ing a fu­ture news­pa­per colum­nist in his youth (far left), of­fered an ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing like time travel.

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