It was on a trip to Idaho to visit my grandparents (on my dad’s side) that I discovered something travel-worthy that I never knew had existed. Down in the basement and inside an old treasure chest was a collection of photo albums (a majority of them old Kodachrome slides) of special family occasions and trips during my dad’s childhood. But within those family albums was a box or two of travel photos that neither anyone in the family has ever seen in decades. However, there was one in particular that had slides of Japanese street signs and landmarks. I dug further and realized these were travel shots from Japan. Developed on old-school Kodak slides (we’re talking “old school” here), these photos looked as though they were taken in the late ’60s on what looked like a trip to Japan. What I didn’t count on as I scanned these slides for archival purposes was just how talented my grandma was with a camera.
After talking with my grandma (who was also considered a fashionista by many who knew her way back in the day) I found out that she took this Japan trip solo with nobody knowing where she went — not even her own son (my dad) and husband (my grandma) knew where she went. You could say my grandma was the empowered solo female traveler in the family, and I thought that was one cool piece of trivia to learn about my grandma.
Upon first glance at these pictures, I was impressed that my grandma didn’t go the tourist route and take monotonous photos of famous landmarks but instead veered off into side streets as well to capture the people and life in Japan.
Unfortunately, this Japan trip was the only overseas travel adventure my grandma went on in her life, which is too bad because it would have thrilled me to see photos from Italy, The Mediterranean, Australia and other countries of interest during that time period. For the next three decades afterwards my grandma spent her traveling days closer to the states — particularly Oklahoma, Colorado, and the West Coast until she was diagnosed with dementia and placed in a memory care home just in the last two years or so. I’ve always had a love of traveling and travel photography, and now I know exactly where I’ve inherited that interest from. All I can say is: way to go grandma!