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Looking the Other Way

I grew up on Long Island and on Friday nights our family often headed to the Westbury Drive-in for the fireworks. Before air conditioning or computer screens there were fireflies in pickle jars and drive-ins to keep us cool and entertained. I had to Google this but in the 50s admission was twenty-five cents per car and an additional twenty-five cents per person. And yes, it was not uncommon for stowaways to seek temporary asylum under blankets or in the trunk.

The drive-in had it all. A playground with a whirly spinning disc with metallic handlebars so that skinny kids wouldn’t fall off, a neon-lit snack stand selling crunchy popcorn and hot dogs dressed in greasy crackly wrappers, two full length feature films, a newsreel – and fireworks at intermission.

The triple trifecta of entertainment.

The fireworks generated plenty of ohs! and ahs! but the best part of the show didn’t take place in the sky. I loved the fireworks but once the big booms and spectacular light show started, I turned around and looked at the crowd. After a brief explosion of confetti-colored bright lights and the ensuing nose-diving fiery embers, the fireworks all looked pretty much the same.

But the illuminated visages of those watching the extravaganza, their emotive exhilaration and awe, and the continually changing light splatters reflected on their faces were far more interesting. Better than the fireworks. An unforgettable image. And I still often look the other way to find the most fascinating stories.

During the spirit sucking isolation of the pandemic I walked and drove miles each day, taking and posting hundreds of photos on Facebook during my daily sojourns, a sanity saving project.

And while looking for inspiration and scanning the thousands of photos in my library, I noticed that some of the images revealed a more interesting perspective reflected in puddles of standing water. I started to crop, invert and post photos that contained images of still water. There were other stories yet to be told.

That realization in part contributed to the creation of this recently launched website which contains some of my Puddle Pictures. These images, reflections of reality captured in puddles, small ponds and creeks with my cell phone during those daily pandemic perambulations, reveal a captivating, surreal microcosm.

And once again, the exhilaration of looking the other way continues to reveal the most unexpected and fascinating delights.

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