Tag Archives: granddad

Dressed in a Tie for Christmas 1957 :: Throwback Thursday

My Throwback Thursday post today is from approximately Christmas of 1957. The images just prior to this one in the album had a Christmas tree in the background and all the others have a date of 1957. This particular shot has nothing on the picture itself.

Who wears a tie for Christmas as a 12 year old? That would be my dad, Larry Fillmer, who is coincidentally wearing similar but update attire in his executive photo there too (and is also now on Facebook, yeah!). Yes, always immaculately dressed no matter what the occasion, he must have been patiently waiting to go somewhere, I’m sure someone out there knows. Funny thing is, I swear we still have that chair in the family somewhere, and that table, which I remember well growing up, I think is still in the family too, pretty sure the lampshade is history though.

I love how sharp and detailed some of these photos are from the 1950’s that (I assume) my grandfather, Don Fillmer, took. He was the photographer of the family but the equipment he used back then was nothing compared to the equipment we use today, and many of his black and white shots were sharper than the best digital cameras today. I would loved to have known what equipment he would be using today and how he would have made the transition into digital everything.

Son of a Son of a Photographer?

James Donald Fillmer Self Portrait

Father’s Day is an interesting day in the U.S. calendar (see my rant on Father’s Day called Why I Don’t Like Father’s Day // Top 10 if you are so inclined). To me, as I am sure with others, it is a day of reflection as well as one to honor the father.

We are told to honor thy father and mother, so today, I would like to honor my dad and my granddad as well. Not because the calendar says I should, but because I want to take a small moment in time for two people that have meant a lot to my life.

Time With Dad is Time Well Spent

I spent yesterday with my dad helping to wash the outside of their house and other general tasks we normally do on the weekend. I am lucky, I live within walking distance of my dad and at this point in my life I actually do get to spend quite a bit of time with my dad on a weekly basis.

So, happy Father’s Day dad, I hope you enjoyed spending the day “working” together yesterday, I’ll be over to watch Tiger Woods try to win the U.S. Open in just a little bit. It is a day of reflection too, and that is simply because the calendar says its Father’s Day. I think about my dad, my son, his son, but also my granddad whom I know only through conversations with my dad. He died when I was to young to remember him, but I have a fondness for him through my own dad.

Through the time I have spent with my own dad, I have learned everything my dad knew about his dad. As time goes by though, we are able to go deeper into what his life was like and I am always learning something new about who Don Fillmer was. I think he is much of what makes my dad who he is today, and some of who I am today as well.

Time To Relax and Take a Self Portrait

James Donald (Don) Fillmer worked at ACIPCO (American Cast Iron Pipe Company) most of his adult life (I believe around 30 years but that is an estimate), and died in the mid-1970’s while going back to work in Birmingham. As I mentioned above, I have since learned over the years about his work ethics, his faith, his love of family, and yes, his love for photography.

I like to think in some small way that the photography skills I have were in some way passed down from my dad’s dad to me. My uncle, Les Fillmer, was also a photographer of sorts, but better known as a musician and conductor with the Alabama School of Fine Arts. The only image I have that Don took that was not work related (or a family snap shot) is a self-portrait he took in 1938.

The Mysterious Dark Room in the Basement

I started taking college level photography courses long before I ever found out that my granddad was even remotely interested in photography. Don’s wife, my grandmother, Martha Fillmer, lived in the same house for many many years and I can clearly remember the dark room Don had built in the basement.

My dad, aunt, uncle, mother all probably know more about it than I do or did. I was probably somewhere between the ages of 7 and 12, but the dark room in their basement was something mysterious to me, only used by my uncle, and rarely when I was around. Full of very large equipment, weird lighting, chemicals, and paper, but it was not something I really ever saw being used. Although there are the usual family snap shots of Don, this self portrait is one of my favorite photos I have seen that he has taken.

He setup the shot, probably developed the negatives in his dark room, and used a large format camera to do it. The Large Format camera is almost a lost art form today with cheap digital SLR’s, but was and is still used by some great photographers like Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter, and Paul Strand.

A Day in the Life of Don Fillmer

The shot shows him in what I think of as a normal day in his house. Sitting in a favorite chair, reading the newspaper. The fixtures and items around him reflect a more simple time, no electronics, no cell phone, just a hard working man at the end of the day relaxing with his paper, still in his suit and work shoes.

The detail in this self-portrait is amazing to me. I have tried a few self portraits and they are not easy to do, well. Anyone can setup a timer and put their face in front of the camera, but a self portrait should tell a story of the person behind the camera who is rarely seen in front of the camera. Although I was not around when this was taken, don’t know any of the circumstances involved, or what kind of a day or week he was having, it tells a story to me. I sometimes wonder if he thought this self portrait taken in 1938 would have meaning to his grandson, to be born 32 years later.

So happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, especially to my dad, and his. I hope you enjoy one of my favorite self portraits, A Day in the Life of Don Fillmer.

Adidas, My Great Grandad and Me :: Throwback Thursday

Scott at Age 13 in Alabama Summer

Well, one of my fellow bloggers, Run’n Like a Vagabond in his post, Throwback Thursday, has challenged us to do our Thursday blog post as a throwback photo post, so in lieu of my image of the day post, I am doing a throwback Thursday photo post. This image was not taken by me (as you might have guessed), and I am not the one sitting in the chair. This is probably the first time I have ever posted a photo of myself in my earlier life, but also probably the first time I have posted an image I have not taken myself. So, if you are up to the challenge, do a post for Throwback Thursday and come back here and leave a comment and will make sure you get linked in. Please, go easy on the photo itself here. Thanks.