It’s 1953 and I am at least one but not yet two. I was called Jenny then and up until I was 19. I think I remember Mom telling me I was 19 months old in this picture. I remember her telling me that the photographer was coming – they had itinerant photographers back in the dark ages – and that I wouldn’t sit still or let her dress me and comb my hair. She fought me into submission.
I remember being a happy, hopeful child. Somewhere I have the dress I was wearing in this picture. It’s very pale pink cotton voile with little knife-pleated ruffles on the bottom of the dress. Getting me into a dress and ruffles was a challenge. It still is. Ever since I got my first pair of bell bottom jeans in 1969 I haven’t been in anything else unless you count working at law firms, etc. in which case I wore suits or dresses. But not with ruffles …….. never ruffles.
Now that I must remember that I am a Senior Citizen – capitalized and screamed out loud – I try to at least dress as if I’m 20 and not 15. Sometimes it works.
The face in this picture was transplanted onto our son. I thought he looked like his father as a newborn. My parents quickly assured me he looked just like me. He got my face and parts of my personality. The parts I don’t care for, of course. He is more laid back than I, taking that from his father. He has my family’s big eyes but his are blue/gray and not brown. He has my dark brown hair but his is curly while mine is poker straight Native American hair. Catching him and dressing him up as a baby was hard too. He was a sneaky little devil and still is, at the ripe old man age of 33.
When this picture was taken, we lived in Gibson City, Illinois. I haven’t been there in years. The town smelled horrible from the bean processing plant where my grandmother and great-uncle worked. There was a small downtown, but usually we went to my grandmother’s house or to a park for a family reunion. I remember one of those reunions the day after the death of Marilyn Monroe and the chatter about it at the park.
I remember playing with kittens on my grandmother’s porch. Dressing them up in doll clothes wasn’t a good idea. They had claws. My kitty was named Butterball, being just a shade yellow and pretty tubby. I loved that cat.
I remember getting my hair cut for the first time ……. and being scared to death as the beautician pumped up my chair so she could reach me.
And I remember happiness. At least for that little bit of time I was blissfully unaware of the tensions in our immediate family. And every day of the almost 36 years I’ve had my own family – I have refused to allow that same sort of tension in our home. Not for me to live in the midst of subliminal disapproval day in and day out. Not for me to live in anger, hate, envy or the thought that other people are responsible for my happiness or the lack of it. Not for me to live with blame, self-pity or manufactured shame. Only for me to live in peace. It took 35+ years, but I’m finally there. Good journey …………