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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Mary Lou & Ranger

Lately, I’m particularly interested in old photographs. These tend to turn up for sale online or at antique shops. Recently, I purchased 2 at an antique store in a town near Richmond and the shop owner was saying how these find their way to shops like his via estate sales and the like. His shop had a huge box of photos and a startling amount of them were completely unlabeled. I wonder if people think, “Well of course we wouldn’t forget Joe!” Then Joe ends up in a box of photos, unlabeled, so who the hell really knows what his name is or where or when the photo was taken.

The author Anne Lamott talks about how when she was a young girl, she and her father would walk in the hills of California and could see the twinkling lights from civilization below and her father would say, “100 years from now? All new people.” Which maybe sounds morbid but I love it. It reminds me not to get too worked up about some things. We’re really only here in the blink of an eye.

I like to look at these old pictures and believe that whatever curveballs life lobbed at these people, they survived them. My mom has a photo of me, scowling. It’s in a frame at her house and it’s a closeup of what appears to be my mom having the audacity to button my sweater and me looking incredibly peeved about this. Another photo of me is me sitting under one of those old, portable hair dryers, where a hose ran into the cap. I looked bored and a bit peevish there as well.

Recently, I’ve acquired a found photo of a small dancer showing off some moves on a parquette floor and another of a small girl named Mary Lou, hands on hips in a front yard where I believe she’d been sunbathing moments before. Mary Lou looks like she does not suffer fools gladly. I like that in a girl/woman - as there is an over abundance of fools to suffer.

I wonder if the person behind the camera was a man who gently suggested or commanded that Mary Lou smile. I like to think this is the case and the resolute look on Mary Lou’s face is a “fuck you” response to their edict.

I’m recently re-emerging from a phase of wanting to burn down the patriarchy - again. If you’ve never been in such a phase you’re either privileged or the patriarchy, or both. Mary Lou’s photo was taken long before women could own a credit card in their own name (1974). But I sometimes wonder what else has changed for women since this picture was snapped - I’m not entirely certain.

Sometimes, when someone (usually, understandably, Andrea) asks me not to blog about something, it’s all I can think to write about - because it’s either blog gold worth mining or it’s something that I cannot make sense of that I am trying to unpack and arrange in way that makes sense. Although, some things will never make sense no matter how many times I poke, prod and coax the pieces.

At the tavern that wasn't really a tavern that we went to yesterday, a grave marker was erected in the memory of Ranger, the tavern cat. I love that and I'm sorry we didn't get to meet Ranger.

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