Here is another favorite of mine, and not just because the Sabres won the game.
This image was made on April 14, 1996. I know this because I still have the ticket stub! The game was between the Buffalo Sabres and the Hartford Whalers and was the last game they would ever play in the old Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. Otherwise known as: “The Aud.”
The great thing about images like this are that they have the ability to immediately take you back to that moment in time. I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast this morning, or even if I did, but I look at this photo and can instantly remember everything about that night. Thinking about how many games I had attended with my dad. How excited we were when Buffalo finally got an NHL team. Listening to the games on my transistor radio while hiding under the covers in my bed, long after I should have been asleep.
Even going back to the days of the Buffalo Bisons, our AHL team. The Pepsi logo on the old jerseys. How dark and scary the old building seemed as young boy. Crushing soda cups to make them “pop”. The sound as it echoed throughout the building. I can still hear it today. And the pick up hockey games with other kids as we kicked the cups around in the hallways between periods. A large slice of my childhood, encapsulated in a single photograph. Such is the power of photography.
Prior to the game, I had called the department at city hall responsible for the maintenance of the building and politely inquired as to the possibility of having a bucket filled with Zamboni ice. After a long stunned silence, the man on the other end of the phone gave me the name of the person to ask for. So immediately after the game, I ran back to my car, returning with a five gallon pickle bucket. I made my way down to the basement where the Zamboni’s were parked and assuring the maintenance crew that I had the appropriate permissions, requested that I be able to fill my bucket with ice from the Zamboni.
Another long stunned silence ensued, this time accompanied by an incredulous stare. After several awkward moments, the older man in charge directed a younger man to fill my bucket for me. I wouldn’t be insured if there happened to be an accident, he explained. How nice that there was someone to do the work for him, I thought, as I watched my bucket being filled with ice. After a short time my bucket was filled, and thanking the crew profusely, i was on my way, delighted with my souvenir, their quizzical eyes following me as I exited the building.
Over time, all relationships evolve and change, and the ways we, as viewers or keepers of memories relate to images, are no different. While the memories come flooding back, how we respond to those memories will often change over time. What I could never have anticipated at the time this image was made, was how it would change for me.
The following season, the Hartford Whalers would move south to Raleigh, North Carolina and become the Carolina Hurricanes.
Several years later, although for far different reasons, I would follow.
For the technically minded, this image was made with a swing-lens panorama camera much like the one I used for the church image from a few weeks age. It just uses a larger film format. The distortion and curvature in the image is a result of the changing distance of the foreground and middle view and that of the view to the edges. As the lens rotates, the distance to each element of the view is changing. The edges are further away than the middle, so therefore it looks closer. Our eyes correct for this but the camera lens cannot. And the distortion is made worse by me tilting the camera down to include all of the ice surface. So I’m really messing with with all the optical planes here. Oh well,..
So while there are many technical ‘problems” with this image, I still like it a lot. It tells a story of a time and place that is extremely important to me. And in that, it’s perfect…