Family photos on Christmas got young Master Rush in trouble

By Don Rush
By Don Rush

It’s December already and it looks like this year we will have a white Christmas. My back already aches after shoveling a few times this past Sunday. But, as it is the holiday season, my column writing tradition is simply this: writing columns for Christmas and that means writing nice stuff. Nothing mean or snotty (which is never easy for yours truly, aka The Snarky One.)

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Cameras have always fascinated me. And, now that I can carry one in my pocket and make a phone call on it and search the internet I am as happy as a clam in the muck. I used to collect cameras, and at one time I had cameras all over the house. Some worked, some didn’t and they were different in shape and size. Some have polished wood and brass mechanisms. Some folded up into a big leather box, others had metal casings or plastic parts. But, they were all fascinating. Until some teenaged-jerkwads broke into my house eight years ago and stole ‘em — that is a different story.
I like the way old cameras look, I like the way they sound — well, the way they used to sound before everything went electronic. On the old cameras the sound of the shutter shutting, internal mirrors flapping, springs and gears doing their thing came together in chorus with a single harmonious “click.” And, depending on the sound of the click, you could tell if your old mechanical camera was set correctly. If it sounded right, chances were the picture would turn out okay.
The new-fangled computer gizmos take good pictures. they’re handy, you can make phone calls with them; they fit in your pocket and they look nifty (when’s the last time you read that word?), but I still like the heaviness of an old, metal 35 mm resting in

I found a picture on-line, 'cuz I forgot to take a picture with my phone of my Mickey Mouse camera.
I found a picture on-line, ‘cuz I forgot to take a picture with my phone of my Mickey Mouse camera.

my left palm. I love putting the camera to my left eye, seeing the frame filled with the moment I’m trying to capture, focusing and taking the shot.
When this love affair with the camera began, I cannot recall, but I do remember writing Santa the Winter of 1968, asking for one. I remember Santa coming through in the clutches with a shiny new plastic Mickey Mouse Head Camera.
Man, that was a magical Christmas!
It was the year I actually saw Santa’s sleigh being pulled by Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer. It was Christmas Eve. sometime around midnight the Rush Clan’s 1965 tan Buick Skylark pulled up in front of the red-brick and white sided home on the corner of Berwyn and Orangelawn.

Dad worked on "the line" for Buick and regularly had new ones.
Dad worked on “the line” for Buick and regularly had new ones.

Myself and sister Barb were asleep in the back seat. Baby Patricia was just as asleep in Mom’s arms. (Yes kids, as strange as it may seem there was a time when the roads were so safe, nobody used seatbelts, car seats or any other device to prevent injury.)
When Dad picked me up to take me inside I can remember opening my eyes. It was cold and crisp. There was snow on the ground and it was a clear, clear night. I looked up to the stars in the darkness and right there, way above our Redford Township home, I saw a tiny red light streaking through the heavens. Rudolph. It had to be! I was five, so Santa it was.
I told Dad I saw Santa (which was a good thing, because earlier in the night Grandpa McDonald said if Rudolph landed on his roof he’d shoot him for Christmas dinner). Dad looked up, saw the airplane pass overhead, said we had to hurry up and get inside and to sleep so St. Nick wouldn’t pass us by. I don’t know if I stayed awake a moment longer. I do remember getting up before the sun, rousting Barb out of the bunk bed below mine and running to the front room to see if indeed Santa had passed us by.

And all was right in the world. Grandpa McDonald didn't shoot Rudolph for landing on his roof! Santa and team flew delivering presents (at least over Southeastern Michigan.
And all was right in the world. Grandpa McDonald didn’t shoot Rudolph for landing on his roof! Santa and team flew delivering presents (at least over Southeastern Michigan.)

Up to the Christmas tree we ran, and there in the early morning darkness we stood in amazement. Presents! Beautiful presents, all packaged in red and green paper. Maybe we were giggling too loud, or excitedly singing praises to the big guy in red. Whatever the case of our merriment, Dad staggered out of his and Mom’s bedroom and out into the hallway.
“Go back to bed, it’s too early to open presents,” he mumbled and staggered back from whence he came.
Whether Barb, 4, and I heeded Dad’s words, I can’t say. I do know, when it was finally time to open presents we went at it with gusto. Fervent believers in the power of Santa (Christmas . . . Christ the son of God . . . Jesus who?) ripping through colored paper and cellophane tape for the promised treasures within.
I can honestly say, I do not remember any other present Santa left for me that year, save for the plastic Mickey Mouse Head camera. I still have the camera (for some reason the thieves left it). And, some of the pictures I took that Christmas. I remember Dad stopping the Buick at a store to get flash cubes and 120 film for my camera, before making our way down to Grandma Rush’s Detroit home.
Like I said, I still have some of the pictures. There’s the one of Uncle Gene drinking a beer by the fire- place. There’s the one of Aunt Pat drinking a beer in the dining room. There’s the one of Grandma sitting daintily, a cold yellow brew in a clear glass tilted to her lips. I also remember being lectured by Pops Rush for the enthusiasm I displayed with my new camera, nor my eye for “candid” photos. Maybe he never heard freedom of the press also pertained to photographers. Or, more likely, he didn’t care.

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It’s fun looking back at those old Christmas photos and remembering. Maybe that’s why I like cameras — for the pictures they take and the memories they can save.
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