Friday, November 27, 2015


It’s a school, I think.
          It’s a school; the teacher (middle-aged) is organizing some kind of circle game with her charges; they’re all holding hands, and there’s one poor kid scrunched down in the center of the circle—clearly “it,” clearly the unwanted center of attention!
          She doesn’t look happy.

But buried in Alan’s description of this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt, is this:
“Just dig a little deeper and look for other themes within this image…”

So, there’s this kid with the baggy socks…
I think I spent my entire childhood in baggy socks…
You know, the ones that your mother made you wear—the silly white ones that rode down the back of your ankle until they were inside your shoes!
Of course you do—all little girls wore them; we wore them with sneakers and sturdy school shoes and those dreaded Mary Janes…we wore them even with slippers (sometimes)!
Remember those?

And remember when you were outside, running around in a game of tag, or softball, or dodge ball, or hopscotch or jumping rope, those foolish little socks slid down into your shoes so far that it felt like running on a huge lump of clay in there?
You had to stop whatever you were doing, sit right down on the ground and take your shoes off; you had to fudge around with those little socks until you could unbunch them, pull them back up over your heel and up your ankle again, put your shoes back on and (if you were lucky enough to have mastered the skill) tie ‘em up again!

I searched through my various family photo albums and boxes and found eleven pictures of me in baggy socks: at family gatherings, birthday parties, at the summer house and even on the steps of St. Paul’s Church in Brunswick, Maine when I was about ten (Mary Janes included).

But this shot?
This is the absolute Best of the Baggy Socks Shots.

It should knock your socks right off!

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Deborah Howell Gould


I hold them for Paris...

Friday, November 6, 2015


Spirit pictures, faerie photos.
There were various names for these eerie snapshots – regular photographs of regular people doing absolutely regular things. These, though, had shadow images in the background – departed loved ones lurking behind chairs and curtains, tiny winged creatures hovering over heads and shoulders, clusters of wispy fairies prancing on lawns or dancing on palm fronds.
          I don’t have any of them in my collection of old family photographs. I do have a photo of my great-grandparents’ home on Boylston Street that has a faint figure standing in an upper floor window, but I’m pretty certain it was my great-grandmother.
And she was no prancing fairy, I can assure you…

What I do have, though, are lots of photos of men in chairs; it seems to have been a popular pose for formal photographers in the late 1800s and early 1900s: Man in chair, either alone or with wife standing beside him (her hand on his shoulder—oftentimes her left, showing her wedding ring), his children clustered at his feet like decorations.

And casual shots, too.
Here are two of a man in a chair from my collection of old family snapshots; both are of my paternal grandfather, Gardner S. Gould.
This first photo is undated. I have no idea why a rocking chair is plunked in the middle of a tennis court, but I love his knickers, his street shoes, his coat and tie and pipe (I remember the smell of his pipe to this day). This is in the 1920s, I think.

In the second shot, he’s sitting in the afternoon sun in the back yard in Newton; his dog Beans at his feet. It’s September, 1943 (my grandmother penned the date on the back). Casual trousers, shoes and socks, sweater and tie…

We called my grandmother Da, we called him Man.

Here he is: Man in a Chair.