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Picture Perfect

Call me crazy, but I’m one of those codgers who likes to look at old photos. It brings a smile to my face and triggers many of these posts.

I like remembering the “back story” of the more recent photos. You know what I mean. We’re all smiling at the camera while one of us says under breath, “I wish she’d get this damn photo taken so we can eat.” Or another classic: the kids are smiling while one of them pinches the other out of view. That, uh-hum, never happened in my well-behaved family, of course.

Several of the older pictures show my sister sticking out her tongue, a favorite pose. Always the out-doorsy type, the seven-year-old girl looked absolutely glum in the 1942 photo of her in her Easter get-up, with our brother and a neighbor girl. I guess she wasn’t bold enough to stick out her tongue yet.

A later Easter photo of the two of us, in 1950, has my pretty sister with her tongue safely in her mouth, clutching my hand. We wear matching navy coats with hats and gloves.

Since my children never knew my parents, I’m especially glad to have their pictures. There’s one of my dad, spiffier than I ever saw him, in an immaculate suit with shoes he could see himself in, posing by his car in 1925. A dyed-in-the-wool salesman, he has his order book under his arm and his fedora in his hand. He looks proud of himself and his car. I chuckle at the ones of relatives by their cars. What WAS it with taking photos with their cars? Sometimes the subjects have a foot propped up on the running board, a la Bonnie and Clyde.

I love the portrait of my mother, a matron in 1943, wearing her “school-marm” glasses and a shy smile. Her hair is marcelled and she’s wearing a dark, Dotted Swiss dress. Its white collar displays a flower matching the dress, which I wonder if she made. She certainly had the skills to do so.

And finally, just to prove what I said about my sister's favorite pose, here's a photo with my sister and me dressed up in our elaborate dresses for our town’s Sesquicentennial. My sister wore a dress and dangling watch that belonged to our grandmother, and Mom made my dress. Our skirts balloon over hoops and I even have a matching parasol. Since we wore them in a downtown parade, I’m reminded that others besides our family paid attention to such watershed events in those days.

I guess you’d say those Old School photos help me revisit the past—no time machine necessary.


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