I'm still looking at all those black and white photos my cousin sent me from Aunt Elsie's collection. I had a post about them back on June 26, I believe it was.
The one I've been pondering today is of me and my parents. It was taken in our apartment in Anawalt--the place I spent my first 18 years.
(I just realized I have no idea 'who' took the photo. It's just me and my mom and dad--our little tribe--in the photo. Who took it?)
There's a date on it--January 1959. I was 11. My mother was 48 and my father 51.
Dad is sitting on 'his' chair--it was red, if I remember correctly. Mom is on the arm to his right and I'm on the arm to his left. Mom is dressed in dark 'work' clothes but with a white, no collar top. Her hair is sort of frizzy--as mine is from time to time--but she is thinner than she is in my memory.
My father is thinner that my memory as well. And, so am I, for that matter. The heavy family I remember wasn't so heavy as I remembered! Actually, we all look kind of average weight. Huh! That's odd.
Dad has on a white dress shirt and dark slacks. His hair hasn't turned a bit gray though my mother has a streak or two. Dad is not smiling--no surprise there--when he did smile it looked fake anyway. Mom has the slight upturned lips I remember from her always. Neither of my parents were prone to laughter. They both had hard lives. But they were always, always gentle with me. That I know and know fair well.
I have a buzz cut--as I had in those days. Ray, down at the barber shop a block from our apartment took about 90 seconds to cut my hair! I have on a long sleeved striped shirt like many of the shirts I remember from my childhood. I was partial to stripes. Now I seldom wear them. Solids for me now that I am almost two decades older than Virgil and Cleo in that photo,
Dad's chair was by the door to the kitchen so, in the photo, you can see into the kitchen and see the coal stove we had there. Our apartment had no central heat so we heated with coal and cooked with coal, mostly. We did have an electric stove as well for important meals. My father NEVER cooked and my mother was only passing fair. I didn't know she couldn't cook when I was 11, obviously.
But here's the thing that haunts me: behind my head, on the wall in the photo is a picture I wish I had. It was always there in my childhood. Not always where it is in this photo but somewhere in our apartment and then in my parents' house in Princeton. (When I went to college they bought a real house in a much larger town 30 miles and two mountains away from Anawalt.)
In the picture there is a young sheep lying still in the snow and above the lamb is a collie, snout up in the air, calling for help.
I wish I had that picture. I would hang it in the office where I'm typing this. I would look at it every day and remember my childhood.
That picture haunts me. I long to have it. It was omni-present in my young life. I just wish I had it in my latter years. Really.
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