Today’s DP Challenge: What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.
My memory of a good portion of my childhood is like Swiss cheese at times; most memories I have are more like flashbacks or still photos of a time or place with no background to fill in the gaps.
However I do have one very clear memory.
I remember when and where this photo was taken though I don’t know the circumstances behind it.
It is a photo that my parents paid a professional to do. The first and last time they ever did, other than those packages you can buy taken at school.
I don’t know why my parents decided to spring for the extra cost of a professional photographer and since they are both gone now I cannot ask them.
It was taken in the spring. The year the photo was taken is lost as the only thing on the back of the photograph is Pied Piper Studios. I remember the photographer came to our dingy little rented house on Alexandria Street in Los Angeles with all his equipment, e.g., lights, cameras, assorted props and a platform that had two steps made from plywood. He arranged us to sit on those steps and snapped photos of us. Two kids on the top row because they were the older two; my brother and me on the bottom row because we were two years younger and known as “the little kids.”
I was about three years old which would make the “big kids” five.
Always and forever we were “the little kids” even though we ended up being bigger the “big kids.” The label I suppose came out of two sets of twins two years and a week apart. “Big” and “little” kids were easier for my parents to remember than four individual names.
I remember the color of the dresses my sister and I wore. Mine was yellow with orange flowers and hers was blue. I got to wear that dress for about three years– as was always the case. My mother dressed us alike; dressed the boys alike also. Maybe it was cute, but for me it meant if there was a dress in my closet that I hated it didn’t matter. I got to wear mine until I outgrew it then got to wear the hand-me-down from my sister.
I also know that my mother had let my aunt, her sister-in-law, cut my hair. Why she didn’t also cut Erin’s hair I do not know. What’s with those bangs anyway?
My parents told us that it was an important day. This photo session was important they told us.
We had to sit on that hard wood platform a long time. Then the photographer took individual shots of each of us.
Throughout the years, even when we moved from California my father hung the 11 x 14 portrait of this photo. As we grew up and moved out he still held onto that photo. Even after my parents divorced, my dad didn’t seem to care much about anything but that photo as well as those individual shots.
Something about that photo said something to him. He never said what but neither did he ever let it out of his hands.
This photo was hanging in his house until the day he died.
I look at that photograph now and remember it was a big deal for my parents—especially my dad. It contains a mystery though. What motivated an extra expense at a time when money was tight? What did that photograph say to my dad that he coveted it so much? Why didn’t he just tell us what his thoughts and/or feelings were about this photograph?