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Camelabilia: Cairo, a Camel, and Route 153 February 18, 2010

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Thanks to a childhood incident, my sister Alison and I occasionally give one another camel-themed gifts. She’s given me camel earrings carved from bone and a camel teapot and a camel Limoges box, for instance. I’ve given her a camel rug and a little bronze camel statue and a camel finial. Back when I blogged about the childhood incident, I dubbed this aftermath camel commemorabilia, which Craig and I shortened to camelabilia.

Once I got to ride a camel. Maybe you remember.

Alison moved to Parts West when she bought Paul’s house. Paul, being such a good buddy and housepainter, occasionally shows up in these pages. He’s the crazy barefoot croquet player. He’s the guy we feared dead one night when our mutual friend couldn’t reach him. He’s the one who turned 70 last month, whose dinner party was my excuse to keep my Christmas tree.

Just as the nights were beginning to turn cool last year, back in late summer/early fall, right before summerfriend Sioux left Parts West for Parts South, Paul and Sioux and Tim and I got together to do something we’d been threatening to do all summer: look at Paul’s slides. Sioux, an art teacher, had the projector. Paul had slides he hadn’t looked at in years.

The history in these slides intrigued us slightly younger folk. First, our friend had been born in Japan to American missionaries. He spent a good number of his early years there. At one point in his life, he’d married a Dutch woman. There were wedding photos (taken overseas!) that offered not only evidence of her existence, but proof of a married Paul. There were lifetimes in these little pieces of film, lifetimes we could now begin to see. It was truly a grand evening.

Paul had traveled a bit with his parents and sister, and suddenly, there on the screen, was a photo of Paul, in Cairo, on a camel! He was about 20 years old when it was taken. Naturally, I begged to borrow the slide for duplication purposes. I mean, look at it!

It took awhile, but Tim finally scanned it and cleaned it up a little in Photoshop; then I took it to a shop for prints. I made a copy for Sioux and her family, which I hand delivered at Thanksgiving. I got one for Paul for Christmas and framed it up good, hoping that the several intervening months would make it a surprise (it did!). I kept one for myself, of course. But, best of all, the image became a most wonderful bit of camelabilia for my sister: a photo of Paul to be hung in the house on Route 153 where Paul lived for a quarter of a century—a photo of Paul on a camel!


1. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - February 18, 2010

My favorite camel story, not that I have many: At one point in my checkered past, I was a real estate agent in Washington, D.C. Tuesday mornings were our caravan days, when all the office’s agents would carpool and go from house to house, touring all the office’s new listings garnered in the past week. One Tuesday we were on Capitol Hill, sitting at a stoplight at a rather blind intersection. All of a sudden, a camel walked in front of the car, but instead of obeying his rider’s instructions, he decided to come say hello to me. He walked over to my car and stuck his head into the window. I obliged him with a pat on the nose, but leery of camel-slobber, didn’t invite further overtures.

The camel driver got my friendly fellow under control, and he led a parade of elephants and caged lions in colorful wagons and the occasional clown in front of my car. The cars in back of me didn’t have a great view, alas, so my fellow real estate agents didn’t understand why this stoplight took a good ten minutes to change….

2. Dona - February 18, 2010

What a perfect gift for your sister, IB.

And Craig — very cool story. We don’t get camels in DC very often these days.

3. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - February 18, 2010

It was, of course, the day the Ringling Bros. Circus came to town, which was always heralded by a big parade. Don’t know if they still do that. They were heading out East Capitol St. to RFK stadium.

4. Eulalia Benejam Cobb (Lali) - February 19, 2010

My head is spinning with all these camel stories. But I do get the feeling of a circle well closed.

5. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - February 19, 2010

A camel with one hump is Dromedary. A camel with two humps is a Bactrian. What do you call a camel with no humps?


6. indigo bunting - February 19, 2010


Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - February 19, 2010


7. Mali - February 19, 2010

1. That’s the kind of slide evening I’d enjoy.
2. Craig, great camel story.
3. IB is so funny.

8. Helen - February 20, 2010

Slide shows… there’s a thing that I thought had disappeared. It’s so great to hear that they haven’t. Maybe one day they’ll make a comeback.

I was at a Christmas craft sale this year where one woman was selling sweaters mainly knit from alpaca, but she had one made with camel fur or hair or whatever it’s called. Maybe you can make one of those for your sister one day.

#5 and #6: Groan and giggle.

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