Do they still have “Picture Day”? When I was in elementary school, there was always one day each year when a photographer came to school to take pictures. You knew the date in advance so you could get your hair cut and dress appropriately. A few weeks later you would receive a package of pictures of various sizes. There were a couple 5″ x 7″ prints; these always went to the grandparents. The 4″ x 6″ size were for the parents. Wallet sizes went to aunts, uncles or other family members, and out with that year’s Christmas cards. There were very small ones to be exchanged with classmates. The pictures came on sheets and had to be cut apart. I remember being so deliberate in my efforts to ensure they were all cut out evenly with the proper amount of border on all sides. Neurotic, even then.
In the package there was also a class photo. It was really important not to be home sick on Picture Day or you would not appear in the class photo. Aside from being nostalgic in the predictable sense, these pictures evoke so many impressions. The photographers really did a pretty good job of capturing personalities.
In my sister’s 5th grade class; she’s second from the right in the third row down; she looks excited and eager. I don’t know anything about any of these children but I get impressions from the photo. The boy in the upper left corner was a little heart-throb. There was clearly something going on between the boy in the top row, third from left, and the girl in the second row on the left; or at least my sister thought so. Third row down, the boy on the left looks like he could have been a prankster. In the same row, the girl third from the left looks like a saucy little minx. There was some serious drama going on with the boy on the bottom row, center. I don’t know what that was about but the fact that his face is scratched out with 3 different colors of ink tells me my sister felt more than casual indifference.
My 6th grade class photo brought back a lot of memories. I was surprised to realize I recall the names of almost everyone pictured. Some of them I continued to know through high school but others I probably haven’t seen since the year this picture was taken.
I am in the 4th row down on the right and, if I say so myself, rocking that dickie. The girl on the left, second row down was my first crush. Her family was Russian. She brought borscht for lunch sometimes which she would share and I would pretend to like.
The guy opposite me on the 4th row was my best friend. Racine had a large Armenian community and I learned about their history from him. He taught me a few words in Armenian that I have long since forgotten. The boy in the lower right was the son of our veterinarian. He and his father both drowned a couple years after this picture was taken in a boating accident on Lake Michigan.
It’s odd the things one remembers. The boy on the left, 5th row down drew the best dinosaur pictures of anyone in the class. The boy on the bottom row, center, had rich parents who let him buy records whenever he wanted. He was kind of obnoxious but he knew a lot about popular music. A couple years after this picture was taken, the guy on the right in the 5th row down loaned me his copy of the brown Jesus Christ Superstar album. It was the first time I’d ever played a recording of a musical; which was probably the most influential interaction I had with anyone in the group…….. though I still dislike borscht. Maybe it’s a tie.