Exploring my family history through old photos continues to fascinate me. This morning I retrieved the last of the pictures from the antique suitcases where they’ve been stored for the past decade. I quickly divided them into 3 groups; those of people I recognize; those with notations that identify those pictured, and a large stack that are neither familiar nor identified.
In the second group, there are a couple dozen small photographs of the type school children used to exchange with each other after ‘picture day’. [Do kids still do that?]
Most of these pictures are inscribed on the back with a name and “1942”. None of the names are familiar as family names and my mother would have been in high school in 1942 so I assume they are classmates. [I also found her 1945 highschool year book so I may be able to cross-reference some of the names but that is a project, and post, for another day.]
When the 1942-43 school year started my mother was 14. That seems young for high school but she graduated in 1945 so it must have been her sophomore year.
None of the pictures are framed. They are just a jumble of loose photographs. There was nothing seemingly noteworthy about any individual photo. Among them, I found a picture of a dashing lad. There was nothing unique about the picture until I turned it over. On the reverse side, instead of a name and date I found a large red smudge; lipstick!
Well this is a juicy detour on the road to re-discovering my roots; a detour that might lead to the border-crossing into the TMI zone.
Was my mother smitten with this young Casanova? Was he the fuel that fed her adolescent longings? When she should have been thinking pure thoughts and looking forward to the day, still years hence, when she would meet the man that would become my father; was her nascent womanhood riddled with lust for some brazen teen-age Romeo? Say it isn’t so!
There are other possibilities, of course…..
Perhaps my mother was keeping this tawdry relic hidden all these years for some close friend & classmate of more casual virtue who was overcome with lust for Mr. Teen Heat.
Perhaps Henry Heart-throb put his own lip prints on the back of all his photos before giving them out to innocent and unsuspecting young women. I wouldn’t put it past him. He seems the type. Unfortunately, it’s a black & white photo so one can’t really tell whether it would have been his shade.
My mother did not have any sisters but she had a brother only 4 years older. Perhaps he had secrets too scandalous to admit; even to himself. That possibility would put an entirely new slant on finding Peter Lawford’s picture hidden under his Army photo for all those years.
Perhaps my grandmother was the wanton in question. True, she would have been nearly 50 but it was, after all, the summer of ’42.
Sadly, none of these alternatives seem likely. Ockham’s Razor would tell us the simplest explanation is probably the correct one; my mother was a teenaged floozy wanna-be. I’ll have to live with the shame.