My dad was born in a house near Annie Battle Lake in what is now Glendalough State Park in Ottertail County, Minnesota, on February 17, 1919.
The circumstances of my dad’s upbringing required him to learn thriftiness and self-reliance and he learned a great deal. What I remember is his unwillingness to pay for something if he thought he could do it himself or make it himself or at least buy it secondhand. He loved photography, and everything related to this hobby he made by hand. He bought his film in bulk rolls and loaded it into the little film cans by hand and in the dark. Rather than take his film to the film lab for processing he mixed his own chemicals and developed the negatives himself. His enlarger was a wonderful device he made from a secondhand lens positioned over a plywood platform that held the photographic paper. He developed the prints in the chemicals he mixed himself and poured into pans made of stainless steel sheets that he cut with tin snips and soldered together.
One product of Dad’s use of secondhand materials is a short movie scene he shot in the early 1950s. Dad bought some 16mm black-and-white film that was sold as military surplus. He used this film to record my brothers and me playing in the snow. We were three little boys bundled up and romping and sliding in the front yard. What Dad didn’t know was that the film had already been exposed but not developed. The military had filmed missile target practice. Missiles flying with big explosions on impact. Dad created a double exposure. Little boys playing in the snow superimposed on missile target practice. When your eyes adjust to what you’re seeing, well, it’s a wild scene, man.
In May of 2012 my dad, Adrian Woods, passed away at the age of 93. Today would have been his one-hundredth birthday.