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Wearing the Past - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Wearing the Past
Saturday two of our friends came over to "remix" clothes together with Kim and Skylar. I deftly steered clear of the needles and thread by sitting in my office revising my Richard Hell piece. But I did step out to chat a few times in order to capture the proceedings in photographs. Some of you may have already seen the evidence elsewhere. Anyway, when the fabulous fashions were complete I was enjoined to document them as well, thereby earning my right to accompany the ladies during their night on the town for Japanese food at Yoshimatsu, reading material at the Book Stop, and dessert at the Santa Barbara Ice Cream Company. All in all, it was a magical day.

Bean decided to wear her outfit again yesterday for the gallery show celebrating the end of her art camp. As I watched her walk around, I tried to pin down a sensation I'd had the previous evening, which wasn't exactly deja-vu, but definitely related. A little while ago, I sat down at the computer and saw the following image in my iPhoto window:

All of a sudden it hit me. The combination of the outfit and Skylar's expression reminded me, both of the odds and ends in my paternal grandparents' bedroom, which struck my elementary-school mind as a space from another time, and of the family photographs I looked through when I was visiting my parents in December. I scanned a bunch of those. Sadly, the ones that most reminded me of my daughter's look were not among them. But I did find a few from the 1920s and 1930s that at least give some insight into why I was "tripping" yesterday and today:

That's my paternal grandmother on the far right, my great aunt Louise on the left, and my dad's older sister Marion between them. Since Marion looks about five or six, this photograph is probably from 1928.

Whenever my dad looks at photos of Marion he remarks how much Skylar looks like her. And I agree with him, though this photograph doesn't demonstrate the similarity as well as others. What intrigues me right now, though, is the way that this old snapshot conjures up the era of Cabaret, the soundtrack for which has been on heavy rotation in our world for months. I look at Bean's outfit and feel like she's channeling a past to which she has no direct access, since it precedes all of her grandparents' attainment of self-awareness. But then I start detecting family resemblances and wonder whether its legacy hasn't reached her by other means.
6 comments or Leave a comment
hollsterhambone From: hollsterhambone Date: August 14th, 2006 10:03 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I adore the clothes in this old photograph. And the stockings. And the shoes, oh the shoes. I wish I were a costume designer for theatrical productions set in the early century.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 14th, 2006 11:24 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Me too. But I'm confronted with a troubling question: is it wrong to have a crush on your great aunt? She's so my type. Every photo of her from the 1920s makes me sigh. I guess I should have been more receptive when she served me my first chocolate malt seventy years later instead of making a face and saying, "What is this?"
hollsterhambone From: hollsterhambone Date: August 15th, 2006 12:26 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
You have a crush on her picture--it's not really her, so not to worry. :-)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 15th, 2006 01:32 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I have a crush on all her pictures!
elf_owl From: elf_owl Date: August 15th, 2006 06:51 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I had a chocolate malted milk shake tonight and it was delicious.

I have crushes on various family members in pictures. It can't be helped.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 15th, 2006 06:59 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
The 20s are a turn-on for me from the get-go. I love malteds now. But when I was six or so and had my first, it tasted horribly weird.
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