Saturday, October 24, 2009

What is Remembered, Lives



This is one of my favorite pics from my childhood. That's me, the one smiling at the camera. You won't find a lot of pics of me smiling, gazing into the lens. I always have hated having my picture taken. My sister Hannah understands. She always used to say "It is hard to pose for a piece of film going by." Now it's even a stranger experience, being pixilated. Pixilized? Digitized? Digilated? What is the right verb here?

My father was a very good photographer. He rarely took posed pictures of us, and in fact he often told us not to pose. I believe I am smiling in the above picture because, due to my contrarian nature, I decided at the last second to break the rule. I do look adorable, though, as do we all. The tall woman is my oldest sister Karen. Nice coat, eh? She is so MAD MEN, isn't she? Deborah is gazing up at her, as she frequently did, and my "Irish twin" sister Hannah is the other adorable little girl. Look at those cars! Man. I am SO OLD.

Sometimes my father posed us for formal portraits (see below.) Looking at that second picture, I have to agree with my old man: posed pictures tend to make the people look stiff and lifeless, as if posing for a daguerreotype. He felt, and I agree, that it's much more interesting to capture people in the midst of living life.

Karen isn't in the pic below, but my brother Josh has arrived. We're in Kansas City now; it is 1961. Deborah is the tall older sister, that's me in the bad glasses, and my sister Hannah looking somewhat discouraged on the right side of the pic. Becky Gamble, an adopted member of our family peeks over Deborah's shoulder on the left. We are dressed up for Shabbat dinner, something we did when I was young. I loved Shabbat dinners. We all tried our hardest to put aside our cares and worries, and just enjoy ourselves. Clearly though in the pic below, we were all still wrapped up in our own thoughts and concerns. I always laugh when I look at that picture.

My sister Karen died from leukemia on October 28, 1988. She was intelligent, classy, passionate about the arts and politics, so proud to be an intellectual Jew, well read. She was a great cook and loved to laugh - and - she was kind of a snob, too. She had style. I remember and love you, Karen. Always will, I promise. Fly high sister, fly high.

Happy Saturday!

30 comments:

Reya Mellicker said...

There are two pairs of bad glasses in the second pic. I'm the younger one in bad glasses.

PurestGreen said...

What fantastic photos, including the cars!

California Girl said...

It's pouring rain up here today and your post evokes much nostalgia for me. Sweet words for your sister Karen. I like the little kid looks. Everyone was cute in the Fifties!

If I ever get my act together, I'll scan some old photos from my childhood, if for no other reason than to preserve them.

Joanne said...

What a beautiful family, beautiful sisters. You are truly blessed. And I can see you contemplating life already in the 2nd photo!

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes Joanne, oh yeah, I am off on a shamanic journey, tranced out. Yep.

Barbara Martin said...

Love the photos, and the cars! I remember those cars, too. Glasses tended to be grotesque in the 50s and 60s. Remember the ones that had wings on top? And the fake gemstones? My morther had those.

Family photos bring out the wonderful memories of childhood, the clothes, the era, the way we lived.

Deborah said...

thank you
mine suck!
and that hair do--give me a break

love you so

Angela said...

I would have recognized you on both pictures, even though I only know you from photos (and your writings). In a way we are who we are, right from the beginning (you look adorable), but if we are granted the time, we can grow in knowledge and wisdom. Shalom Shabat to your sister, and to you!

Whitney Lee said...

Is it sad that I kind of like the glasses?
I love going through all of my old photos. Doesn't it bring back sweet memories, even if they are only sweet because they are seen through the softer lens of time?

Elizabeth said...

Karen's coat is so chic.
You must miss her terribly. So we will think of her
because of your post.
Yes, the eye glasses are a bit wonderful.......
I never realised you came from a big family.
Love these private glimpses.

Rain said...

LOL Reya, I love the glasses!!! Great photos!

Merle Sneed said...

Reya, for those of us of a certain age, those photos are very touching. There is something magical about our childhoods, no matter how crappy they seemed at the time.

k-brow said...

I love these old pics. I spent yesterday with a friend, listening to digital conversions of her grandpa's reel-to-reel tapes of their 1964 conversations. Amazing, and I've been pitched over into a nostalgic mood, as well. 'Tis the season for our memories, I guess.

I love Mad Men. Not "feel good" but recognizable, nevertheless.

lakeviewer said...

You were lucky to grow up among sisters. I envy that, since I was the girl between two brothers, ten years between each of us. We never had pictures with all of us. Love your photos, loving portraits of a time.

Steve said...

Karen was beautiful! She is very "Mad Men," indeed. Clothes were so elegant in those days, weren't they? I love little you, as well!

John Hayes said...

The post title really is something to meditate on--love that you're posting these photos!

Ronda Laveen said...

Wonderful photos! I definitely get a sense of Karen's style. Lovely. Confident. I still remember the first kid I knew that died of Leukemia. I was in 6th grade and he was a year behind. His name was Ricky Tupperman. It's funny how things we think we've forgotten get triggered.

I enjoyed yesterdays photos. I can really see the winds of SF in your hair. And Jake? Hysterical! What a great memory of him.

steven said...

hey reya - i love these pics of the family - sweet girls - give the past a present. don't think about cars reya - think about how vital looking each of those people looks with their worlds within worlds opening out and in. there's such huge presence. steven

Reya Mellicker said...

Steven you always say the perfect thing.

And Deborah, everyone's hair was awful then.

Y'all like the glasses? If you could only imagine how thick and heavy they were, real live coke bottle bottoms. But ... thanks!!

janis said...

Reya~ I too love old pictures. My home is filled with casual unprofessional pictures. Annie's senior shots were taken by a "classmate" with a very natural feeling and style.
And Honey~ you are not that old! I have pics of the same era and I refuse to be old! LOL
Lovely story, thank you for sharing it :)

Washington Cube said...

You must be feeling brave to face these down. It's takes courage to open those lids.

karen said...

I'm enjoying the old photos very much! Great learning about all your siblings, and thanks for sharing the story of Karen. She looks beautiful indeed, what a sad loss...sending you some special thoughts today for this post x

lettuce said...

what wonderful photos Reya, thankyou for sharing them with us. I can really see you in that 2nd picture.

Reya Mellicker said...

Cube I love looking through old pics. Not scary, at least for me. Hmmmm ....

Bee said...

I agree with Elizabeth: this post is like a special keyhole into a whole new world of Reya.

Karen sounds fabulous. She is the picture of elegance.

Mrsupole said...

Lots of these older pictures floating around. Lots and lots of fun to see them all. We are blessed to see them and have them bring back so many memories. Some happy, some sad, but luckily we can remember.

I really like the coats and how everyone used to dress up to go to shopping. I remember those days. So sorry about your sister and will say a prayer for her on the 28th. As long as we remember they are still with us.

God bless.

Lori ann said...

Thank you for sharing these Reya, I don't know why but sometimes looking at old family photos makes me want to cry. There is something so vulnerable about them. And precious. You are SO cute.
I'm sorry your sister died, cancer is a terrible thing. You have made her live with your beautiful memories.

willow said...

Wow, I didn't realize when I popped over this morning what a treat would be in store! I adore old family photos. I suppose it's because of my line of five generations of grandfathers who were photographers.

Your father was a natural and so right by not having you post. My favorite is the one in the Kansas City parking lot. It's brilliant!
(It does looks strangely familiar, by the way. Do you know where in KC it was taken?)

Reya, I'm so glad you posted all these wonderful pics. I should dig out some, too.

willow said...

that should read..."pose" heehee

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes, Mrsupole, people DID used to dress up to go shopping. Wow. Hadn't really thought about it that way.

Willow I would LOVE to see old pics of you. I thought your mirror post/poem coincided nicely with my bout of reminiscence.

I think the parking lots is somewhere in Denver where I was born and lived until age 5. I think I'm 3 or 4 in this pic, which would mean Denver.