Mom gave me some old photos when Jeff and I visited at Christmas--boy was that a gift and food bonanza!--and I thought I'd share them here. My folks didn't take lots of photos of my brother and me. We were at our cutest in the 70s and are among the last generation of kids whose every waking moment was not covered with photojournalistic zeal by our parents. Mom's camera was kind of a fossil. Developing photos involved sending rolls of film in special envelopes to some faraway lab and then waiting weeks for the prints to arrive in the mail. It had to have been a pain in the ass for Mom and expensive to boot. The existing photos that do document our childhood have, by virture of their scarcity, become iconic visual aids in our family's folklore.
Case in point: the photo above. This is one of my earliest memories, and I probably remember it because Mom thought it was important enough to photograph. I was given the fun job of putting the cheese on the pizza, and I distinctly remember the pleasure of placing the cheese in the nooks and crannies created by the hamburger. (We were having Poverty Pizza, as I fondly refer to it now, which was made with a Chef Boyardee pizza kit consisting of dough mix, packet of Parm, and a tall skinny can of sauce. Hamburger sold separately.) As you can see, I'm using my left hand even though I'm right-handed. Mom was a lefty, and it looks like she set the bowl on the left because that's just the way a lefty would do it.
More culinary prep work: it's corn shuckin' time. I'm sitting on a stool that remains part of my parents' living room furniture. Note also the corrective shoes I'm wearing. Those were supposed to keep me from pointing my toes in when I walked. While they are not exactly doing anything helpful in this photo, they must have worked because I don't toe-in (as I called it) when I walk now. At least not as much. Also, wagons seemed to be key toys for children to have back then. We always had so many things to pull around!
Here's a sweaty three year-old me and my baby brother Ryan. I had just run into the house after playing outside with my cousins Scott and Jamie, and Ryan was standing up in his playpen. Baby Ryan was stupefyingly cute and happy. How could you not hug him, standing there with his little face? Mom said that people would sometimes say things like, "It's a shame to waste all that beauty on a boy" when they saw him.
My grandparents had Shetland ponies that grazed in the pasture behind our house--how's that for enchanting?--and when I was three, a palomino named Duchess had a colt. You can see the ponies in the background, and I'm about to give them some carrots. I've got to hand it to Mom--that is the perfect outfit for a little girl to be wearing out by the pony barn.
Soon enough, it was time for me to go to school. Can you find me in this class of squinting kindergarteners? I'm on the far right in the back row, wearing a blue and red gingham dress sewn by Mom. I was one of the tallest kids in the class, along with Jimmy, the blonde boy in the orange shirt. I am thoroughly convinced that my life would have been completely different had Jimmy not moved away when we were in second grade. Standing beside me is Michele--we would become co-valedictorians in 13 years. And check out our teacher Mrs. Engle on the left, a.k.a. the most beautiful woman any of us had ever seen.
At Christmas a few months later, my brother and I scored a giant cardboard box that contained some big kitchen appliance. That night Ryan and I hid in the box and popped out at random times, jack in the box-style, screaming with glee, while our toys languished beneath the Christmas tree.
I have some more photos that were taken once Poof arrived on the scene, but I think I'll save them for a future blog. I hope those of you who celebrated Christmas had plenty of time to play in big cardboard boxes with your loved ones.