Life In Black And White

One of the things my sister left behind for me was a big bag of black and white photos. It was full of images of our childhood, moments in time frozen forever. Growing up on a farm in the 1950s was a very hard life. During the planting season through harvest, life was full of long hours. Sun up to sundown was spent cropping tobacco and picking cotton. It was brutal on us as children but it was how we lived. We took it in stride and made the best of it.

The tobacco was green and sticky with sap that was impossible to get off your hands. We had to string the loose tobacco onto a tobacco stick. This was done under a barn in the heat and was non-stop work. Picking cotton in the hot blistering sun was exhausting and your hands would bleed and the sack that you put the cotton in, a burlap sack, grew heavier with each step. Yet no one complained and many a gospel song was to be heard.

Here in these black and white photos was a chronicle of my early life. There is something about those photos that made my life look hard and lifeless. They seemed not to have soft edges. You could almost feel the burdens that we carried just to make a simple living and put food on the table.

To me, they don’t show the life we had in color. They don’t show the brilliant sunsets, clear blue skies and the vibrant greens of the fields when the crops were at their peak. Life was full of colors, smells, and sounds. Imagine pancakes on the griddle, watermelons, and cantaloupes glistening with the morning dew waiting to be picked.

The photos don’t capture the cool water of the creek where we would take a late evening swim, or the pastels of Sunday clothes after church at a cover-dish lunch. In the fall the trees turned bright scarlet and yellow, with the orange of pumpkins stacked high for the harvest dance.

The images of my life are all black and white yet my memories are all full of color like a rainbow after a summer rain shower, and the azaleas my mother planted when we first moved to the farm. Their beauty and color were breathtaking but not so much in these old photos.

Point of View:
In life, much of what we do is not as black and white as it seems. Growing up I often heard the old saying that life is a simple as black or white. Life is not black and white. It is a palette of vibrant color like a Van Gogh painting. It is laughter, joy, and song. It is full of texture, smells and many feelings. It is full of love, kindness, giving and compassion all these color the spectrum of life.

Even the dark days and pain that sometimes visits us look better in color. I have spent the last 19 years of my life creating a garden. It was planned so that in each season something blooms. It always has color and beauty. Our memories should not be remembered in black and white but as a garden where something is always in bloom. Live your life in color.

“A picture’s worth a thousand words. But you can’t see what those shades of gray keep covered. You should’ve seen it in color.”

~Jamey Johnson


Larry Tyler
Larry Tyler
Awaken the possibilities … then unleash them. After 55 years of successful retail management, I have returned to my passion of writing. I write Poetry, Storytelling, and Short Stories. As a child, I grew up on front porch storytelling. I would sit and listen to my Dad and his brothers tell these great stories that were captivating, and I always wanted to hear more. I wanted to experience the things they talked about. I started writing at a young age and reading everything I could get my hands on. At twelve years old I started a storytelling group and several of my friends became writers or poets. At 16 I hopped box cars and worked the tobacco fields, orange groves, picked cotton, and spent many nights around a campfire listing to life stories. Someone once asked me why I wrote. It consumes an amazing amount of time and I assure you it is not going to make me rich. I write so that my children can touch and feel my words telling of the ones that came before us and the stories they told me. These are the chronicles of our family and even though they come from my childhood memories and are deeply rooted in a child’s remembrance at least they may feel what it was like in the time before them and cherish the things the elders left behind. I am a Columnist & Featured Contributor, BIZCATALYST360 and I have The Writers Café, a group on LinkedIn that features Poets, Writers, Artists, Photographers, and Musicians . On Facebook I have two groups and one page; Dirt Road Storytelling, From Abandoned To Rescue Dogs And Cats, and About Life, Love And Living. As writers, it is true that we honestly do not know what we hold within us until we unleash it. When our words inspire others only then will inspiration return to the writer. I will spend my twilight years in search of the next story, the next poem, and the next image. I will take the time to enjoy my Wife, our Dogs, and Cats, and our amazing new home and I will always find the time to walk down a dirt road I truly hope is that I never have to read another book on Leadership, be on a conference call or see another plan o gram as these were the tool for what I did in life and not about who I am.

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  1. Hi Larry I was born in 1958 and grew up on a small acreage. We too had plenty of chores to do and gardening and animals to care for. When my folks passed we found a bunch of black and white photos. Funny I don’t remember those times in black and white either. The fowerbeds always had a ray of colors and the garden lush green. The night stars sparkeled at night. It is those memories we keep that keep things colorful in our minds eye.

    • Thank you my friend. The winters on the farm were stark, void of colors and the spring would come. The Azaleas were the first to bloom and then the gardenias. Life went from gray to colors over night

  2. Some people tend to take any things to extremes, in one way or another, situations. There aren’t, in essence, for them, middle ways: either you are a great collaborator or you do not understand anything; all is well, or it’s all rubbish; or you’re wrong or you’re right and so on. The inability, in this case, to modulate and operate the due gradations, leads to flatten everything in two colors, white and black, in fact. The reason is that this is easier, but the downside is that many aspects of reality are lost, while could be very useful. In professional and personal life, it is necessary to have the ability to grasp the priorities, to know how to give due importance to things, to know how to graduate life situations in short, giving gradations of importance and urgency. Those who are able to grasp these gradations can consequently modulate the necessary commitment, the consequent emotional investment and therefore also evaluate what they deserve and what does not deserve our efforts.

    • Wow ! Your insights always amaze me. You see things that I never see. That is why I value your friendship so much.

  3. I love this story. It is so full of color I can’t even imagine the black and white photos. Often we go through life in mundane routine and forget to actually live! I enjoy the vivid colors of your beautiful garden every time you post them. Now I have the reason to the why they are so beautiful.

    • Thank you so much Valerie. You comments are so very true. We must always look for beauty, colors and share this with out reserve

  4. I was just speaking to someone about the escalation of darkness in the world today even from just a year ago. I suppose you could say that this change in the spirit is simply black and white. Thank you for bringing color back if only for a moment in a world that has become so monochromatic.

  5. Absolutely agree. Life is not a silent or black and white spectacle.
    It is an inexhaustible rainbow of colors, an interminable concert of noises, a phantasmagoric chaos of voices and faces, of creatures whose actions intertwine or overlap to weave the chain of events that determine our personal destiny.

  6. The photographs were only a viual to the memories of the heart, which are full of all human senses and emotion. Your story lays it out perfectly, and brings back memories of each’s own, which are not simply a snapshot of an event, not simply decisions born out on a list of pros and cons, but as you quoted, life in the gray areas.

    • Thank you Suzana for your kind words. It means a lot that you took the time to read my article. It is truly a snapshot of my life.

  7. Larry I fully agree with you. Fully. Many in their entire lives see in black and white… and they don’t realize life is a shocking technicolor… because even the worst things in life… have unknown results… “even the very wise cannot see all ends”… and in any case they will eventually pass … in just one short breath. Thank you Larry. Thank you Dennis.

    • Thank you so much Massimo for your insight and for taking the time to read my article. I am greatful