Here we are, the four of us together.
It’s 1950, I’m guessing; it’s probably Thanksgiving (or Christmas – I’ve got red bows tied around my braids...) and we’re here for dinner, I’m sure.
And...look at those suspenders! My brother and I both have them (not an exclusively male fashion statement, clearly), and even though we both look faintly uncomfortable, we’re holding our own.
Whenever I look at this photograph, I’m catapulted back through time to my paternal grandparents’ house in Newton Highlands (right outside
– a tan house with brown trim that perched on the upper end of the avenue. It
had an entry way, a dining room; kitchen and breakfast nook (with a
black-and-white tiled floor that my grandmother washed in two stages...once for
all the black tiles, once for all the white); an enormous living room with
fireplace, plenty of couches (one antique horsehair one that pricked at the
backs of your legs) and a couple of comfy chairs, and this bookcase at one end
near the french doors. Boston
I’ve got some of these same books in my bookcase; my brother has others.
My father’s wearing one of his ever-present bow ties; I remember the gray and yellow sweater vest my mother made for him (just peeking out from inside his jacket).
Above his head are photographs of his sister and her husband and an old daguerreotype of a Gould ancestor that now sits on a shelf here in
My mother’s black outfit is a surprise to me – she wore mostly bright colors, wild patterns – and this long, black dress may be a concession to her mother-in-law’s more restrained style. But she’s wearing lots of silver; and her smile certainly brightens things up! (She had a striking resemblance to Katharine Hepburn, although this photograph doesn’t do justice...)
That lampshade above her head fascinated me. When the light was on, those geese seemed real; if I stared hard enough at them, they nearly flew out of the reeds and grasses. I was convinced, apparently, that they moved, and if I disappeared for any length of time, somebody would come to find me – I was always there, watching, waiting for that miracle.
It’s strange: I’ve got four cartons of family photographs and papers that go back two hundred years – photographs of generations of families in my line; formal and casual portraits of parents and their young children, parents with their youthful children, parents with their adult children.
And they’re wonderful...
...but I’ve always wondered why this is the only photograph I have of my family – of my parents and my brother and me – all together.
The only one.
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