Photo Prayer 2021-41 --- Closing Time

Nearly fifty years ago, near closing time, I sat in a dimly-lit dining room four steps down from a brightly lit bar. The efficient waitress carries our empty glasses up the steps. The clocked-out cook steps down, done for the night. The telephone booth and all the chairs but ours are empty; the TV, blank. The essential condiments — salt, pepper, catsup, A1 Sauce, and sugar — sit on the table tops, ready for tomorrow’s patrons. Seventeen thousand tomorrows later, I see this photograph and have no memory of the place or why I was there. Yet no other image so clearly brings back to me my life at the time, a time when people and things seemed solid. If they now seem more tentative and changeable, they also seem more miraculous.

Photo of a dining room and bar, Stolz Garten Restaurant and Beer Garden, Austin, Texas, circa 1974.
Photo copyright 1974; text, 2021 by Danny N. Schweers.

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Cookie wrote:
I was up early (for me) this morning. A song was running through my head - Closing Time. I heard my laptop ping and lifted it up to see what had come in. It was this. Good shot. Great timing. [DANNY REPLIED: Wow, Cookie! What are the chances? It is the kind of coincidence that makes us wonder what’s going on beneath the surface. My experience investigating small personal mysteries like this has been rewarding but not enough that I pursue them very often. Too much work for a lazy person like me, someone happy to let mysteries be mysteries.]

Anne wrote:
Danny, very evocative of the human experience. I have a photo of a wedding I attended. I don't recall the bride or groom or the other friends in the photo. The expression on the face of the bride still puzzles me. I can't find a hint of joy. You're growing more Mary-Oliver-like with every poem. [DANNY REPLIED: I admire Mary Oliver’s work. I called her once to ask for some poems to publish in Image: A Journal of Art and Religion. Her assistant said Mary would think about it, so I did not get to talk to her. But Mary did give us three poems to publish: Stones, Snowy Night, and The Word in Image No. 27 in the summer of 2000.]

David wrote:
darkness/light, arriving/leaving, present/absent, life/????

Tom wrote:
Good thoughts, Danny. And thanks for posting a vintage photo.

Marti wrote:
I have nothing earth shattering or powerful to reply…just that I like this black & white picture very much! I’m thinking back to my own half-a-century-ago life when I was just starting out! Looking forward to meeting my friends especially after a hard, long week of working … to eat, to have some drinks, but then the band would start to play & we were ready to dance & sing along! Danny, thanks for those memories! And also part of my memories is that I would go from my FT job to PT restaurant job (where I closed up!) to the bar! Ahhh, those were the wonderful, but busy, days!

Dave wrote:
Can’t put my finger on why Danny, but I really like this one.

Bernadette wrote:
This is wonderful, Danny- Thank You for sharing!

Anne wrote:
Good thing we have our memories. Hope today's youngsters have such good times.

Stephanie wrote:
The thing about old photos is that they make me wonder about the nature of time. Where is that waitress now? And the cook? I wonder if we could see a snapshot of a particular moment in time in the future, what would it mean? Unanswerable. We are unanchored as we move through time. Only the camera can stop it for us. And then only virtually and only briefly. Maybe that's enough of a miracle.


Is that Scholz Beer Garten?

John , Van, and Mariann:
Yes! Scholz Garten. Good Texas German atmosphere and cuisine, Texas wholesome, family and children, no drunks, good positive vibes and one fine jukebox and nice folks!

You are a master of candid photography. The evocations are brilliant. Thank you for sharing, Danny.

Gorgeous photo! Love that slight blurred motion.

Those were the days! And there’s a telephone booth on the left. You don’t see those anymore.


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