Family photographic histories assembled during the last century quite logically focused only on the transcendence of 20th century life, not its shortcomings. These records most often consisted of carefully chosen snapshots neatly impressed into scrapbooks or slotted into slide projector carousels, precious silver halide bets placed on the future, silent assumptions that more generations would most certainly follow the current one, and that those who came after would one day be inspired to look back and reflect with nostalgia upon the recollections of their ancestors.
I grew up in the 1960's in a small farming community 28 miles west of Carswell Air Force Base in Ft. Worth, Texas, a site considered at the time to be a primary target for a Soviet nuclear attack. In 1962, I was in algebra class 60 miles from Dealey Plaza in Dallas on the day John Kennedy was assassinated. Today, as then, this city remains the buckle that binds together the the forces of radical conservatism and evangelical christianity in my state. The family to which I belonged was a microcosm of that time and place: serene and prosperous on its balloon-thin facade, filled with anger, confusion, and the potential for violence just below the surface. Nuclear holocaust, assassination, the wrath of God, racial tensions, the fragility of family ties. This was the context of my coming of age.