In the summer of 1982, five teenage boys sat down on a wooden bench together and posed for a group photo at Copco Lake, California. 30 years later, they’re still taking that photo. High school buddies John Wardlaw, John Dickson, Mark Rumer, Dallas Burney and John Molony made a pact: every five years, they gather together at the California lake, sit on that same bench and recreate the picture they took at 19 years old.
To begin with, a ritual was never intended: the original picture from ‘82 was taken simply to mark the vacation. Captured with a 35-millimetre camera on self-timer, the photo saw the young vacationers sporting curiously “dark and mysterious” expressions as Molony held up a Folgers Instant Coffee jar containing a live cockroach, a piece of butterscotch candy (food for the cockroach) and a photograph of Robert Young (company for the cockroach). Revisiting the lake in 1987 saw them taking the photo again, on the advice of cabin owner Wardlaw (nicknamed “Wedge”), with the same facial expressions and the same pose, and they’ve done so ever since.
Their touching tradition recently gained media attention when Dickson posted the photographs on a website dedicated to the pact. “Watch us lose hair and gain forehead, gain and lose and gain and lose weight,” Dickson posted on the site. “There are reasons we all decided it was better to take the photo with our shirts on.”
Such collective dedication makes for a heartfelt tribute to the power of friendship. But how long will this go on for? “We plan on doing this for the rest of our lives, no matter what,” says Dickson. “Up until there’s one guy just sitting in the same pose! Even then, maybe someone will take a picture of an empty bench for us.”
See each photo below, along with comments made by Dickson. I’m sure we’re all looking forward to the 2017 pic.
“In 1982 we took this rather odd photo. At the time we had not idea that 30 years later we would be reproducing it every five years.”
“When we realized the same five guys were going to be at Copco together again we decided to take the same photo for the second time”
“In 1992 the weather was cloudy and cold so shirts were worn on the three John’s for the first time.”
“At this point we had strayed a bit from the original photo, something we would start to correct in future photos.”
“This was the year we got back to truly duplicating the original though John M. forgot his sunglasses and we made a joke with the huge jar.”
“On this occasion we returned to a duplicate of the original jar (No Roach) and standardized a hat for all future photos.”
“On this occasion we even tracked down the original duplicate of the Robert Young photo to place in the jar. Sadly you can’t make out his face.”