Tag Archives: The Imaginary Family Project

The 2011 Imaginary Family Project – Week 1

Editor’s note ~ If you’re new to the RDC, we’d like to suggest you to some time to peruse back through “The Imaginary Family Project” fiction short stories put out each week in 2011.  We loved what our volunteer authors came up with and hope you will as well.  Enjoy! ~ RDK
#1 of 52 : JANICE
2011 Imaginary Family Project Week 1 - Janice
(click to enlarge)

External Photo Clues:
PrintStamp – May 1955

Even as a child, Janice only tolerated tradition to a point.  Her doll stage was short lived and obligatory, and she rapidly moved on to non-fiction readers 3 levels above her grade.  Her 5th grade teacher would play a game with her when she finished her homework much earlier than the rest of the class.  Spin the globe, stop it with her finger, then look that country up in the encyclopedia and read about it.  The words she found interesting – the pictures, truly captivating.

After a college career that ended nearly as soon as it had begun, she towed her boyfriend to Southern India for a year. Continue reading The 2011 Imaginary Family Project – Week 1

What Happens When You Finish A Book? You Think About It…

I found myself dealing with a slight touch of sadness last Thursday.  I realized that, after reading the final entry of the “Imaginary Family Project, 2011” there would be no more entries.  No more stories created to bring the characters in forgotten photos to life, with new dealings, new thoughts and new nuances.

In order to deal with my slight touch of sadness, I sent my brother who created this series an e-mail.  I think it had the word, “Wahhhh…” within the text somewhere.

So now that the project is over, I’m thinking about it.  I’m thinking about each photo, each author, the author’s writing style and plot, and what might have gone into influencing that particular story line.

Some of the stories I really, really liked.  When I finished the story, I smiled.

Others I appreciated but something about them didn’t fit my reading interest much.  I argued in my head with the twist or the approach or the character’s action…as would anyone with literature outside their niche interest area.

And others stuck with me for several days.  A few I wanted to hear more about.  And a few, I wanted to hear a great deal more about.

As I think back through the fifty-two entries in the Imaginary Family Project, I have a few thoughts I decided I’d like to share with you.

First, I wanted to thank the creator and organizer of the project, Quentin Bomgardner.  It took a great deal of work to find volunteer authors, help them select “the” photo they wanted to write about, get the story in by deadline and communicate with the author throughout the process.  Sometimes it was downright difficult – occasionally authors would change their mind.  That’s a fair choice, for sure, but rough to work with when putting out a story every week.

Second, I was especially glad to see the project get picked up and noticed by an art group, and by one of the interested parties connected to the Library of Congress.  And, although most of the authors were from Oklahoma, we had quite a few from other states covering the expanse of both coast lines.

Finally, I want to THANK the authors.  Each and every one of you created new life for these photographs and have helped them live on when they might have otherwise been forgotten or tossed by the wayside.  The characters are now “living” all over the U.S. with histories, flaws and hopes…and they cannot be taken back. Continue reading What Happens When You Finish A Book? You Think About It…

The 2011 Imaginary Family Project – Week 51

#51 of 52 : GARY IRELAND
The Imaginary Family Project - Week 51

External Photo Clues:


Gary Ireland was born in a small, isolated town in western Oklahoma of about 1,000 people.  His formative years included World War II when all the resources of the United States were dedicated to the war effort and the subsequent boom years when the men and women involved in the war came home.  His world consisted almost entirely of the events and experiences in his hometown and he experienced both austerity and plenty.  This was a good time and place for a young boy to grow up.

Gary was smaller than most of the other children his age, but he made up for his size with an incredible amount of energy and speed.  His short legs were a blur as he ran around town with his friends, spending most of his free time on the sidewalks, streets, alleys, and vacant lots of his hometown.

Today, this would not seem like a good, or safe, way to grow up.  But, in reality, the children were free to learn and experience things that would stay with them their whole lives.  They created their own forms of entertainment and solutions to problems as they worked it out with each other.  More importantly, every man and woman in town acted as surrogate fathers and mothers as the children ran around and experienced the delights and freedom of their childhood.  Adults observed what happened and they either dealt with any sign of a misdeed or quickly brought it to the attention of the appropriate parents.  Gary’s parents were always among the first to know, as they ran the grocery store on Main Street.  The African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child” was at work in western Oklahoma.

One particular group of older men spent most of the day observing the events in town.  They were known as the “spit and whittle club”, a less-than-complimentary term used by the rest of the town to describe what seemed to be their only activities, chewing tobacco and carving wooden trinkets with their pocketknives.  Their daily schedule was to follow the shade or the sun around town, depending on the season, and to watch and discuss the events around them.  They also had their favorite dry or protected spots when it rained or the north wind howled.  One of their favorite winter expressions was “there’s nothing between us and the North pole, except a barbed-wire fence and it’s been blown down”.

Actually, the spit and whittle club spent their time observing and discussing the human condition, politics, religion, philosophy, sociology, and the weather.  The weather may not seem to fit in that list, but these men were survivors of the Great Depression, the worst of the Dust Bowl, and were located in the middle of Tornado Alley.  One of the deadliest tornadoes in history had happened in 1947 just up the road in Woodward. Continue reading The 2011 Imaginary Family Project – Week 51

The 2011 Imaginary Family Project – Week 50

#50 of 52 : EDDY AARON
The Imaginary Family Project - Week 50

External Photo Clues:

Eddy Aaron is a name that I had somehow forgotten until receiving the news of his untimely demise. Feeling nostalgic, I decided to dig through an old box of relics. When I came across this photograph a memory came flooding back; the kind of memory that leaves you wondering how you ever forgot it in the first place.

I knew Eddy from St. Peter’s, a private school for boys in Clinton, MI. We were introduced behind the maintenance shed where some of the students would hang out and share cigarettes, adult magazines, alcohol, and whatever else they had managed to smuggle back from their weekend trips home.

Eddy was a regular at the spot but he wasn’t around at first because he had been on a home suspension for pissing on Coach Davis from the roof of the school. He claimed that he was trying to put out the coach’s cigarette as an act of encouragement. Smoking did not fit into the healthy lifestyle that the coach preached so sternly. By the time Eddy came back to school I had already become somewhat popular thanks to my stories of St. Mary’s.

St. Mary’s was a co-ed school that I had attended before transferring to St. Peter’s. The transfer had simply been an attempt to relieve some of the financial burden created after my dad was laid off and forced to choose a more humble career path. But that’s not the reason I gave my new friends.

It was clear that stories about girls were the quickest way to earn the respect and admiration of my fellow classmates. I started by telling them about how we would frequently hide in the girls’ locker room and watch them shower after gym class. Truthfully, I’m not even certain there was a gym.

When they pressed me for more details I told them about the time I was caught by Veronica, one of the most physically detailed fabrications I ever created. Continue reading The 2011 Imaginary Family Project – Week 50