I found some pictures of my son Tommy in an old cigar box recently, and I’m posting a few of them here. The cigar box actually belonged to my Aunt Vivian years ago and dates back to her childhood in Los Angeles in the 1930s. Vivian’s father (my step-grandfather), Ernie Voigt, was a California state assemblyman and, perhaps by extension, a devoted cigar smoker and the source of many empty cigar boxes over the years.
In addition to the pictures of Tommy I found a variety of relics/treasures/artifacts in the box that predate the photos (and my own birth actually) by decades. These include a couple of ancient pocket watches and wrist watches, as well as items from my own childhood such as boy scout badges and an ancient pocket knife.
The pictures themselves date to about 1970/1971 and were taken in Point Richmond, a small community located across the bay and within sight of San Francisco. Tommy, his mother, and I moved to Point Richmond in 1970 when I was working as a deck officer on Chevron’s coastwise oil tankers. We lived in a small apartment near the San Rafael bridge, and just a few hundred yards from the main gate of Chevron’s Richmond refinery and the “Long Wharf”, where tankers to this day load and off-load crude oil, diesel, and gasoline for destinations on the west coast and beyond.
Tommy was a toddler at that point, sometimes unsteady on his feet but walking — running — with the gusto and self-confidence that foreshadowed aspects of the person he would become in years ahead.
The time we spent in Point Richmond is on my mind a lot, and I wrote about it in an earlier post:
I’ve thought about how I could describe my recent reaction to those photos when I discovered them in that cigar box, as well as the feelings that wash over me when I think of the boy I knew in that apartment in Point Richmond. But the description eludes me, and I simply can’t find the words. I can only say that I think often of that apartment in Point Richmond, and the time we spent together there.