Friday, August 21, 2009

Line up and smile

I have hundreds of things that I am supposed to be doing. And tonight, looking for something else I noticed that this photo I had thought was black and white had tinges of color. Using Photoshop, I got some color back and removed a lot of scratches and some of the blue stuff that was on quite a few of the old photos we have been working with--I don't know why.
The memory thread part is that while working the photo over carefully, I got to think about each of my brothers and sisters, who are all in this photo, which was taken a year or so before I went away from home for college.
We'll begin with me. I always made my own clothes, then and until about 1975. The pink skirt was a heavy rayon fabric woven of coarse threads. I liked the way it draped. I had figured out a way to use whatever width of fabric I had to make these pleated skirts, which were my common garb. My waist was 23 inches and I just divided the amount of material I had into even amounts divisible by 23. Then I made a cardboard template and marked each pleat off with pins. Then I pinned in the pleats and stay-stitched them in place before attaching the waistband. I was wearing one of these skirts the day I met my husband; it was a modernistic print of ships in bottles on a lavender ground. I liked the color. He has said he thought the design was very modern, and that I must be very interesting.
The blouse fabric was semi-sheer, with small pink flowers on it; I chose the pattern with pleats across the front to make it more comfortably modest. Yesterday I saw a teen in town wearing what looked like three sets of underwear--there were three sets of spaghetti straps, white, fuchsia and black, and not much was left to the imagination, alas, but at least her belly button was covered.
Marjory is the youngest child here. We made the move to the farm when she was one year old. Then Robert went to school with the rest of us, and she spent most of the day with our mom, who was not really feeling well at this time and who had a "nervous breakdown" about three years later. I remember Mom feeling bad that M had no one to play with--so she played with her herself in a sandpile. I would hardly know Marji at all if we had not lived with my family later while my husband was in graduate school in Cleveland and they had left The Farm behind.
Susan is next to me in age, with the long dark hair. I think her dress was homemade, too, but I imagine Mother made most of it--I don't remember Susan sewing. Susan was very popular, and very compassionate. She cared for sick animals and forced her friends to accept some new kids who were poor and smelled funny. She and I didn't have much in common; I had liked being an only child for almost four years, and I wasn't very nice to her. I liked to read and be alone and she was intensely sociable.
My brothers loved that farm--the six years they spent there form the heart and soul of their childhood memories. All four of them were born within five years, and they roamed together like a pack of wolf cubs at this time, tumbling and playing and sometimes doing assigned chores.
Start with the boy in the suit. I don't think the rest of them had suits yet. John is already showing signs of his irresistable and sexy charm. He married very young and chose very well and had eight fabulous children. He was the sibling I was closest to at this time.
The next one looking straight out with a confident smile is my confident brother, Richard. He has lived in Columbia now for many years, and has been successful in a series of different careers. Next is Robert, the youngest boy, looking at him, and not the photographer. Robert grew up to be a leader in the field of speech communication and analysis. You can see that he was more interested in the social interaction with brothers than in having his face show in the picture. He was my dear friend, and my understander; it is hard to believe that cancer took him away a dozen years ago.
At the end is David, slightly shorter than Robert, although 15 months older. This was not a happy fact to him then, because everyone took him for the youngest. But he grew to be a decent size and now is very dear to me, even if we don't agree on politics. I've had some great times with him. So here we all are, circa 1952, and if that isn't a memory thread, what can be??


  1. Ohmygosh. Love this. I saw the photo through your post on facebook, but reading your description here is priceless. I am so glad you wrote all of this down. As the oldest child in my family I feel a heavy responsibility to remember all the things the others may be too young to have known. This post, however, makes me want to get out all our old pictures and start reminiscing.

  2. Well, I am Susan the second girl in the picture from the right. I do not remember June being mean to me. I was not home a lot unless I was asleep. I felt close to all of my siblings...especially Marjory. I think that my dress was yellow. And I did sew. I made my formal and wore it to the Jr. Prom when I had pink eye. I had a lot of help from my mom but I remember being a sewer. That is one who sews... not the depository for waste. As second oldest, and june always upstairs reading, I felt in charge of the boys and the chore chart and pretty much ruled. I loved the farm as well, and enjoyed outings to the creek to have lunch and catch crayfish and bugs. 140 acres with no dangerous people to threaten.

    My daughter is bugging for the computer so guess I will go. I am still trying to figure out the face book thing. So sometimes type in the wrong box and that kind of stuff. I think that is a great picture. Never really noticed that David was shortest. Later!!

  3. Rarely do I wish I hadn't been an only child. Your fond memories and observations of your brothers and sisters is touching. And your understanding of your mother is compassionate. She was probably pretty smart to "just play in the sand." Constructive and recuperative, even if not what others expected! Thanks for stopping by my flickr page. (Sultry)