G. David Thayer, Heritage Photo Specialist
G. David Thayer, yearbook photo. 1957 Coloradan, University of Colorado, Boulder
David Thayer has been working with computers since June of 1957, when he started work as a mathematician and computer programmer for the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder, Colorado. He began programming microcomputers in 1981 and developed a number of vertical applications (computer program systems for a single corporation) in the 1980s. David took up desktop publishing in 1991, which soon occupied so much of his time that he abandoned further programming efforts in 1995 to devote full time to this relatively new field. In 1997 he began researching the genealogy of his family and shortly afterward purchased a flatbed scanner in order to digitize the many old photographs of ancestors that were coming into his possession.
These three fields coalesced in the early twenty-first century. In 2002, David began work on a comprehensive family history titled The Tie That Binds, which he finished in 2010: an eight-year project culminating in a 1400+ page, two-volume set that was published in hardcover and distributed to family members in 2012.
G. David Thayer, 2014, Sarasota, Florida
Of these three technologies, the one that is at the same time the most fun and the most challenging is that of digital photograph editing. In his opinion, there are few thrills that can compare with seeing an old photo, possibly faded, color-shifted, badly exposed, blurred with age, distorted, damaged with spots and creases, or some combination of these, “come to life” and look like a picture that was taken last week.
David has worked on developing the skills necessary to repair compromised photographs for the better part of the past fourteen years. During that period, the hardware (scanners, etc.) and software (e.g., Photoshop) for processing photographs has advanced so radically that the old can hardly be compared with the new. The skill set necessary to utilize these tools has increased almost in the same proportion.
Like Alice in Through the Looking Glass, we have to run as fast as we can just to stay in the same place and twice that fast in order to get somewhere. Nevertheless, David stands ready and able to accept new and exciting digital editing jobs.
The World War II Years
David Thayer, our own OAS Heritage Photo Specialist, reflects on what some remember as “the good old days.”
Nobody who lived through the years 1941 through 1945 could forget what it was like. For starters, there was “the duration.” No one had to specify the duration of what. It was understood that it meant the war. “It will be like that for the duration” was a typical comment back then.
Then there were the endless war bond drives, scrap metal drives, and “victory gardens.” We tried to do one of those but ended up with just three string beans, which tasted terrible to me. In school we went to assemblies where we sang war songs like “Off we go into the wild blue yonder. . .”; “Anchors Away”; and “Over hill, over dale, we will hit the dusty trail, and those caissons go rolling along.” The last one was the Army song. None of us had a clue what a caisson was, of course, but we all sang the words, dutifully. The second one was the Navy song, and the first, the Army Air Force. There was no Air Force per se in those days. They invented that after the war was over and everyone realized how important aircraft had become to the art of warfare. The Navy even got its own special air force, the Navy Air Force. The poor old Army lost theirs.
Then there was the rationing. We called it “ray-shun-ing” back then. Everything was rationed. Especially gasoline. Dad had a B sticker because he worked at a job that was essential to the war effort. Most everyone else got an A sticker, which limited them to something like 3 gallons a week. We didn’t do much driving back then, even though our “B” sticker entitled us to 8 gallons a week. Doctors got a “C” sticker allowing them unlimited gasoline. My wife, Retta, remembered the war years as being in grayscale, not color. Probably because all of the endless newsreels we saw when we went to the movies were in grayscale (most folks mistakenly call it “black and white” but the only things that are “black and white” are line drawings).
The speed limit was 35 mph during the war, and everyone obeyed it religiously. You were supposed to give GIs a lift whenever you saw one along a roadside. It was amazing how well everyone cooperated during that awful time. What a difference compared with the nasty bickering that goes on nowadays!
Sometimes the old days really were the “good old days” even if it took a world war to make it happen.
God help us if it ever happens again, because the next one would be Armageddon.