Stories Told

Photographic holiday memories: A story from my book, A Place to Start

I hope you’ll indulge me one more story from my book, A Place to Start.

The holidays are almost upon us, and in A Place to Start I tell this one holiday story. You probably won’t be surprised it’s about a camera! A Polaroid camera, to be precise. I wish I still had this camera.

If you order today, it’s probably not too late to have a paperback copy of my book in your hands in time for Christmas. Of course, if you order an electronic copy, you’ll have it instantly! Here’s where you can get it:

This story first appeared here on December 22, 2008.


My grandparents always owned the latest Polaroid cameras, and they passed on that tradition in 1977 when they bought my brother and me Polaroid Super Shooter cameras for Christmas.

courtesy Paul Giambarba

When I unwrapped the gift, I remember thinking how cool the box was. I liked the box so much that I kept my camera in it for the almost 30 years I owned it. Not long ago I learned that the box, like all Polaroid packaging of the day, was designed by Paul Giambarba, a top designer who was a pioneer of clean, strong brand identity.

I remember how easy it was to spot Polaroid film on the drug store shelf because it had the same rainbow-stripes design elements as the camera’s box. Film and developing for my garage-sale Brownie cost about half what a pack of Polaroid film cost, but the colorful Polaroid boxes on the shelf always tempted me. I often decided that next time I bought film, I would save my allowance for the whole month it took to afford a pack of Polaroid.

My brother also got a guitar that Christmas morning. My new camera came with a pack of film, so I loaded it and shot a photo of him on his first day with his guitar. He played that guitar for 20 years! He looked strange as an adult playing a kid-sized guitar!

20 Christmas Days later, when my older son was not yet a full year old, my wife gave my brother her old guitar. Our boy, drawn to the music, wouldn’t leave his uncle’s side as he played that evening. Steadying himself on his uncle’s knee, he looked up with wide amazement in his eyes.

May this holiday bring you the gift of excellent memories to share with your loved ones down the road.

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18 thoughts on “Photographic holiday memories: A story from my book, A Place to Start

  1. My, what a blessing and a curse for a kid. Your own Polaroid camera! Which came with the compulsion to use it, which required the most expensive film known to mankind. If that didn’t teach you to budget as a kid, nothing would!

    • DougD says:

      I read that story in the book, and was wondering what the box looked like.
      Thanks for including it here.

      Buy the book!!!

      • Doug, I would have loved to include the box photo in the book but it’s not my photo. I’ll use a photo that’s not mine on the blog because I don’t make any money off it, but it’s a different story for a book I’m selling!

  2. Thanks for reminding me Jim! Been so busy almost missed it. Perhaps I should get the ebook this time though I still like hard press. Don’t think too much this is your site…Plug it brother nothing wrong with that!! 😎👍🏻

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