Maude Newton's inspiring ancestry explorations so near to this Mother's Day put me in mind of vintage photos of my mom and me (and there's the coincidence that my mom and Maude share the same birthday of May 21.)
This photo strip is from one of the defining inventions of later post-war middle America, right up there with Levittown: the Woolworth's photo booth. Once you put the coins in, it gave you a few seconds to set yourself. Then a red light, and then the flash when off; then the same sequence 3 times again, with a few second intervals. At the time, it was magic. Film had to be developed, no one got to see their pictures right away, but here you did.
I remember feeling stress in the booth, to have to keep striking new poses. It was hard on everyone to keep changing expressions, but that's also part of beauty and distinction of the strip and what it captured.
This is one of the few original Woolworth's photo strips left in the family album, and the only one that wasn't cut up into its squares. It's also rare and charming that it captured my mom's Madonna-like gap between her front teeth, caused by a muscle that grew between them. She usually held a Chiclet behind her teeth with her tongue for photos. (Where have Chiclets gone to?)
Cliche of the day that doesn't make it any less true: thanks for everything, mom! Love that striped jacket you're wearing. Very stylish, as always, still the same today.
What surprises me about this photo session is that I'm smiling. I was a very serious child, rarely goofy, and I cried a lot. Too much of the time really. But here I mugged for the camera. Such was the power of being in the Woolworth's booth.
I have not had the privilege of being a mother. I am a spiritual mother several times over, which the world also needs. I did not know it here, but I would only know the mother-daughter relationship as a daughter.