And the world was no longer beige (OS Archives 2014)

The photo arrived in my email a couple weeks ago.

My oldest brother, sixteen years older than I, had read my post, The Renters.

The photo he sent is from 1973, from the time of the first renters. The image is in pretty bad shape, but that this photo exists.....this, the first photo I know of taken of my oldest brother and me.

1973 was the year of Ralph - the renter who burned TV dinners at 7 am and left his crumpled, leaking cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon on the flagstone around him when he'd drunk himself to oblivion on our back patio most school day mornings. Ralph, who finally moved away, while the ghost of him stayed.

1973 - also the year I saw this brother for the first time in a decade.

He'd been immersed in the Sixties, early Seventies, far away from our suburban life - there had been rows about money and the draft, our parents finally Drawing the Line. My brother said Fine. He played music around New York City, took off for California and played music some more, eventually headed back east.

After awhile, after my father died, he came around again, during that year I turned thirteen. 

My brother brought music. He brought the gift of creative endeavor, of giving oneself over to art.

He explained, he gave attention.     

  It was as if a new universe had opened.

 

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Comments

And what a cutie you are!
Look who's holding the camera now.
I love this window into you.
Given how The Renters' affected so many so deeply when I presented it on the radio, this is very important to me. I realize a photo cannot translate well to radio but I'd so much like to follow it up somehow.

RATED
How exciting to have an older brother who returns bearing the precious gift of seeing you, and giving you things to see.
Loved this story as it reminded me of a family'uncle" who would go to mexico each year for 6 months and bring me something this small rural town girl had never seen before. Magic.. that is what it was.. and that is what he brought to you. and yes what a sweet picture!
Cool pic. That's a big age difference, almost like having a second dad. That's a professional grade camera, a Rollei, if I'm not mistaken. R
Great picture! I wanted an older brother so much! He sounds like a free spirit going off to find happiness. I hope he did.
'Lord we don't need another mountain . . .'


. . . re-reading . . .
Pieces of the past. I bet this one brought out some new memories.
Shoot this is neet. And there you are! (without the sunglasses) Loved this.
It's a great, evocative shot. And a great story.
The photo evokes everything you say here: "He brought the gift of creative endeavor, of giving oneself over to art. He explained, he gave attention." That's a pretty amazing gift.
My sister was 'cleaning' out and came across some long forgotten moments captured on a Kodak. You are lucky to have such a brother.
R&R... Somewhere there is a photograph of me and my brothers in 1973... we look like a crew from a wanted posted from 1880. ;-)
This is a grand picture. It already has presence, but you have turned it into a window. Beautiful!
Gosh, I like that picture. You were already beautiful at 13 and the look of wonder in your eyes says it all. It is wonderful that he decided to reconnect at that impressionable time of your life.

Lezlie
I like the torn edge.
Even the best memories have some torn edges.
I forgot to say that I loved your title.
What a beautiful photo, beautiful girl! 

Is your brother taking the photo? Maybe the world's first selfie. :)
We must always be grateful to those who open new horizons for us. R.
1973!
the yr of 

me being 6 & hooked on the watergate hearings.
worshipping walter cronkite...

the yom kippur war, 
Egyptian and Syrian forces attacking Israeli forces in the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights on Yom Kippur...

The Battle of the Sexes: Billie Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs...

The two German Republics, the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), are admitted to the United Nations...(sorry, my germanophilia is showing)...

The U.S. bombing of Cambodia ends, officially halting 12 years of combat activity in Southeast Asia..

The last United States soldier leaves Vietnam...

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration is founded...

Led Zeppelin plays before 56,800 persons at Tampa Stadium on the band's 1973 North American Tour, thus breaking the August 15, 1965 record of 55,600 set by The Beatles at Shea Stadium....

Pablo Picasso dies at his home in France...


the first handheld mobile phone call is made by Martin Cooper of Motorola in New York City...
&

The World Trade Center officially opens in New York City with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Your brother reminds me of me -- and you were a cutie!
You are a beauty - and I wish we could see your brother's face!

/r.
awww. i love it. thank you, jt.

what a gift.
How funny - I just saw a photo of a very young Paul McCartney taking a selfie in the mirror with a Rolleiflex, almost the identical pose but no cute little girl.
Your life continues to fascinate, this picture is rich with detail, it's a poem. I love your expression. Perfection here.
OJ,
I saw that shot. It's from 1959 I think. I printed it and brought it down to a local starbucks because one of the barristas looks frighteningly like Paul did at that age.
wow, what a lovely story and a fabulous photo! i'm of the age to have known so many who disappeared in to the 60s and 70s and never made it back. i'm with others about how gorgeous you are and wishing the brother's face was visible. i love how you formatted this like a poem. it would mean the world to me to reconnect with someone who meant that much. so happy for you that you got to do just that. so wonderful that it was your superb writing that brought this all about.
Look at that thumbtack hole. Somebody had this picture tacked up for a long time.
How neat that your post reconnected you two!
Good morning!!
Wow, thank you for all the comments - after I write a post I find it hard to return to, for some reason....I am verklempt by the kind words you all have offered.

nerd: I didn't even remember having long hair, most of the existing hair cuts in photos looking decidedly homemade and short with crooked bangs...but thanks : ) I found myself staring at this kid, since I'd not seen photos from age 12 or 13 before....
thanks for coming by!

II - ha! You are right. I also married a carpenter who subconsciously reminded me of this brother, I have a feeling. Funny what influences burrow right in and show up later : )

PoetTESS, I was prompted to post this after reading your rant - this being the brother who did not go in the military.
I have a couple other photos of he and I together, but none from when I was a child - but until last year, I didn't have any photos from wide swaths of my childhood. My dad like to take photos of us/me, but they all were on slides, most of them gone forever...
I love that little trickles of photos have arrived here and there from relatives over the past couple years.
Nice to see you here : )

Jon, did it? I didn't realize that. Thank you for saying so.
I am currently editing that Renters piece and considering telling a different version of it at our town's Storyteller night in October. The theme is Transformation, I am re-writing to include the internal transformations, more.
What do you think? 
I'm terrified of doing it at all, so it must be good for me to do : )
Thank you for your input - it really was such a gift that this photo arrived....I had no idea what I looked like then.

l'Heure - hi! So glad to see around here again, lately. 
Yes, this brother never lived in the same house as I did since I was one!, we figured out last visit. He turns 70 this year. I turn 54 in a month.
I got lucky that this guy is my family. Same with my other siblings, really (while the parents were interesting people to others - and good people - but lousy parents, as far as my opinion goes), but this brother and I 'get' each other and always felt a nice simpatico between us, for all the physical distance that has always been there. 
I think so, anyway.
Thanks for coming by : )
Linda: exactly. 
magic : )

Gerald, yes, we've joked over the years about that very thing, but since we've never lived even remotely close to each other, hard to say 'second dad.' 
I kind of missed out altogether on the 'dad' relationship growing up, really. 
'Older brothers' here and there was a fine substitute.
Good eye on the camera : )

zanelle, I just love that this guy is my brother....and we've been long-distance my entire life, so none of that wonder on my face when around him ever did wear off. 
We know each other only through very small doses.
He is the only human alive who can just have a 'look' at some habit/attitude I have or another - and I'd change that habit forever without one peep. NO one else has that power over me.
You'd like him as an older brother, too : )
James - that's a quote from somewhere, isn't it? Can't peg it.
Hopefully it's not from Deliverance. or Sling Blade : )
Although the photo evokes some different era, doesn't it? 
My oldest son said, "Yeah, you had some 'alternative' moments, didn't you, Mom?" Which I did, just not at this age...
nice to have you come by.

jl - yes, it's funny how one post or another written about back in the day brings new information from a relative or another, a photo arrives, a note from an old neighbor......helps me fill in the blank spots. and there a lot of them, since I have so few photos to remind.

This photo's arrival was from out in left field. I didn't remember ever having long hair until seeing this - and now am remembering how my grooming went out the window when my father died and mom didn't notice much else that was going on with me for many years after.......poor mom. Dad dying so suddenly threw her for a loop.
I eventually learned to fend for myself. 
As always, thanks for coming by ~
Thanks tg and Kosh - it really was like getting a little window into a time I had not many visuals for. Funny how I mimicked with my avatar unknowingly.

Hi Susan - the photo did capture how I think of our relationship. That he is looking down into a camera beside me with a comfortable feel between us, rather than us laughing and looking into each other's eyes or something, is also suggestive of how we are together.
Hi Ande - it's nice, isn't it? to see new photos from a bygone era. This one was certainly cool for me to see. That brother turns 70 this year, I hope to get to the birthday dinner : )

HI jmac - that would be a cool photo to see : )

Rosigami - thank you. It put some mystery to rest when this photo arrived...

Hi Lezlie - it's that wonder in the eye that caught me, as well, the inspiration for writing, I guess. 
This is the brother who shares your same birthdate : )
Hi Gary - thanks, I'm glad. me too : )

aka - yeah, I had to laugh a little at the condition of this photo - it can get a little chaotic, in life. 'Torn edge' is an appropriate addition : )

Hi mime - glad to see you here : ) and thanks.

jl : ) It is exactly what happened.
Hi clayball - yes, the photo was taken by my brother, we're both facing a bathroom mirror : )
...and thanks for coming by!

Lyle - I'll always be grateful to those who paid some attention to a lonely, odd kid : ) When my other siblings were in town, they were pretty cool, too. This brother was the one I didn't know at all, then, so his appearance was pretty out of the ordinary.
Nowadays, I like to pay attention to the lonely, still.
Nice to see you ~

Oooh, James, like the list! 
Like you, I was hooked on the Watergate proceedings, although you were a smart pipsqueak to be into such things at age 6 : ) I thought being 11 was young to notice such things...anyway.....
I even made a collage of Time magazines over the whole thing - actually still have that in a file, somewhere!
Tom, I would agree! by what I've read of yours here : )
...and that is a compliment, as far as I'm concerned.
Thanks for coming by!

Hey OIT, how kind of you : ) and I wish you could see his face better, too. I do have some great shots of him from years later...
hard to believe he will be 70 this Fall. I need to buy plane tix!
Nice to have you come by ~

Thank you, janie - I wanted to share the surprise photo! especially after presenting the 'lovely' Renters piece......ha! What an awful era that was. Always glad to see you : )

Hi joe - yes, I've seen that one. Many people over the years have compared that brother to Paul McCartney, here and there. I think the resemblance was mostly the hair of the era : )
My sister at a similar time was always told she resembled Jane Fonda - the Vietnam era incarnation of Ms. Fonda, that is - again, I think it was the hair!
Thanks for coming by ~
Rita, thank you. 
Your personal note meant so much...
Always glad to see you here : )

Theodora, thank you. 
One of the best things about dredging up and putting to rest more properly some of the old baggage from childhood is how I've been gifted with photos and remembrances in note from some relatives after they've read some of my memoir pieces.
I am missing most photographs from childhood as my father's abundant photo-taking was all put on slides, most ruined, I thought most of my adult life. I have now one carousel of slides sent by my (other) brother - with the only photo I have of me with my mother, or any taken before teenhood, other than a very few. 
Such surprises, such lovely pieces of the puzzle to fit together - and then move on - feeling more whole, somehow : )

greenheron, thank you for that observation!! 
I hadn't noticed. 
Very cool - much appreciated : )
I hope he sees this post and reads the comments it inspired.

So often we're unaware of the impact we have on others ~ when it's your sis, and the timing is right, it can last your whole life, with a little luck :-)

Beautiful pic ~ I'm going out on a limb and calling that camera a 50's Voigtlander ~ maybe it's just a Kodak, whichever, those big negs were wonderful. Loving black and white, and all the shades between.
Hi Kim - I hope he sees and reads, too.
Writing this made me wonder if he realizes the influence he's had on me....but, it's the younger who remember/look up to the older, not vice versa as often. 
He was just immersed in life all along, he still is. 
He tends to pick his head up for the next step. 
The rest will wait.
Love the photo. It's so meaningful, a picture. I hate when people criticize me for always taking them - later, they're grateful I've captured special moments. Thanks for sharing this - and also it seems I missed "The Renters" so now I have another post to read from you. Huzzah!
Alysa : ) 
I understand the photo taking - and can drive any company nuts when I bring the camera along on walks/hikes. In the city it's endless architectural detail I photograph, just what is missing living in a small town - and in the country there's always something cool to capture on film. This morning it was great blue herons playing at the shore while an osprey dove and caught a fish! I couldn't believe I'd caught that moment. Tres cool : )

I am only now thinking about heights in that photo - that brother was 5'4" or 5' 5" maybe, then....not sure I'll ever understand how or why all those men renters were allowed in our house when I was so young....this era is still a process to.....process.

As always, glad to see you, Alysa : )
His timing couldn't have been better! I'm happy for you that he was there to open your world.
From this brother: 
"Don't stop writing. Straight from your hand to my heart."
(well, now I'm really verklempt)

No mention of camera type - yet.
My money's on Rolleiflex, and that looks like the very expensive f2.8 lens version. (I borrowed a Rollei from an older friend and got totally hooked on photography from age 16 on.) There was a cheaper copy by Japanese Yashica, and those were really the only popular twinlens reflexes in those days. Splendid cameras but couldn't compare with 35 mm cams for versatility.
The professional director in me wants to say you don't get a second take at a peek-boo. However earlier I quoted Burt Bacharach as sung by Dion Warwick and even earlier fritzed up an haiku on your 'Renters' rendering while all the time I just wanted to say
you are consistently entertaining, J Thinking.
Keeping the medium an art form in my POV. 
An extenuation of hope. When the kids ask me what blogging is I'll say it goes like this
Hi Phyllis - yes, he arrived at a good time. Didn't stay long, but that we got to connect was the important part.

Hi o.joe - I'll post when and if I ever hear from him on that : ) I think it's cool so many have noted...

Hi James - I'm glad you went against the second-peek principle and enlightened me - I'd not have ever guessed! : )
and - thank you. 
I don't deserve your praise, but I'll gratefully take it.
As always, nice to have you come by ~
Are Rollex and Rolleiflex the same thing??
I dedicate this post to Rose ~ who reminded me of how lovely, what a sense of safety in order, were my mother's ubiquitous vacuum tracks.

I love you, Rose : )
little elfen girl.

that is some story. 
that you used to live so close to swan house ...your descriptions are so touching - you just slay me. you gotta know that!

I want to hug little you. and give you paint by numbers kits so you can paint inside the lines and then when you're feelig frisky - smoosh it around and toss the lines to the wind. (thats what I did with my grandaughters when they'd visit)

they didn't know - the parents, just like we don't know. they were living in their skin but I think - knowing you - you've figured that by now. 

we know only what we know. our kids are living a different life, turning cold concrete into warm petals and touching moss and tree bark and twirling and dancing under the sky, not quite alone.

nerd's right. you were a little cutie! that's for sure.
Hi Monkey - do you know the Swan House?
So glossy and highly feted today. 
I saw it showcased in Vanity Fair once fairly recently, with lots of 'southern' women fancied up on the lawn.......'my' Swan House was neglected and much less glossy. I loved it. 
It *did not* aid any childhood realistic expectations of the home I'd have as an adult.....ha!

The paint by numbers - what a lifesaver. 
Those outlines were the only boundaries I had. 
I adored those lines, so black and white. 
'Color goes here and *not* there.' 
This number matches this color and it *only* goes that way. 
always.
So different than regular life at the time....

'Beautiful colors can change everything in front of me, just like that.' 

'Just flow with the paint - just flow *like* the paint.'

'Corners suck.' 
(This much later manifested in living in a round yurt for a year....it was so peaceful, living in a round space. Corners really do suck.)

'Worry on/fix on something too long and it's more likely to turn into mud.'

Mantras I've carried forward, pretty sure from the paint by number era...
Just back re-visiting this photo...
Monkey, your comment still brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for taking the time and writing it. It means a lot.

Happy New Year, big brother, although on the surprise-for-you birthday visit this November I noticed we're almost the same height now.
: )
I will treasure forever the stunned look on your face when we walked in the door...
Same with your comment, James Hart.
Thank you.

So many lovely comments - thanks again, all....
and a Happy New Year for all of us!

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