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Glimpses of Paradise (Part I) by Jerry Long

Tarague Picnic

Glimpses of Paradise (Part I) by Jerry Long

In the early 1960’s, my father was sent to Guam to spend the final two years of his four year term in the US Navy. During his time there he took several hundred photos with a Nikon 35mm rangefinder, which in 2010 I collected, scanned, and restored to save the slides from decay and age. Through them, I found many connections with my own photography through framing and fascination with moments in time, places unique to all others. It was a glimpse into a tropical paradise regrowing from a war 15 years before, now covered with resort hotels as one of the main islands other than Hawaii for tourism from the United States, Japan, and China.

Growing up I had only seen a small fraction of the photos, as sometimes on special occasions we would have a ‘slide showing’ upstairs late at night in the dark, or there was the myriad of stories that my father would tell. The stay there, which he often referred to as ‘a paid country club’ of sitting on the beach, playing golf, and exploring the mountains, also convinced my uncle and cousin to join the military. My uncle was subsequently sent to Alaska to be a flight surgeon in the Arctic, and my cousin was stationed in Antarctica on an icebreaker, neither of which were nearly as pleasant as my father’s stay on Guam, and which forever led to endless family jokes. He left Guam to return home 2 years later, just 1 month before Lyndon Johnson sent his unit to be nearly destroyed in Vietnam.

For me, having just returned home from Indonesia, and shortly before I moved permanently to Japan, the time with my father in his last months alive, spending much of my time each day restoring and preserving these photos taught me as much about myself as it did about him. It was his past, and far more than I had known just from our friendship through the years. Seeing the unspoiled beaches, shimmers of love and youth, deep orange sunsets, tattered war relics, and a simple room, just to pick a few of them, is for me validation of who I am, where I come from, and at the same time what I see. It’s just a different time period, and another generation.  – Will Long, 2012

All photography by Jerry Long, scanned and restored by Will Long     


Guam is good


About the photographer:

Jerry Long (1936 – 2011) was an American photographer, orthodontist, and naturalist from Mississippi.