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James Dickey would have been 90 years old today. In these photographs he was 19.
Some years after my father died in 1997, I was at a loss how to remember him. What was the image I wanted — that I needed — to hold onto? The memories of his face and his physique had turned, through age and grief, to blurs and shadows. But as I was looking at a family album kept by my grandmother I came across these snapshots from 1942 at Sea Island, Georgia, and I realized these were precisely what I’d craved. Of course I never knew this boy, but I knew that all of my father’s life, this was the image that he held in his head of himself. You see it again and again in his poetry, from “The Bee” to “Looking for the Buckhead Boys,” and in his dream of what he called “the happy swimming pool,” which is how he thought of heaven. And because these Apollonian images were so dear to my father, I decided to embrace them, too. They are now, not my memories, but my idea of him, and in my heart I need no other.
== Christopher Dickey