Friday, May 25, 2012

Photo Friday: Meet Doris and Ray

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Good morning! On this very special episode of Photo Friday, I'd like to share with you some photos from an estate sale I went to in West Meade about two years ago.

Risqué! Also, way to go on really DOING the costume party thing! Go hard or go home.
I was buying a photo of a little boy who honest-to-Garsh looked like a child actor straight out of central casting 1950's tee vee land in a pretty gold frame. The woman at the checkout desk said that I could easily take the photo out if I wanted to put something else in it and I, sheepishly, admitted I was buying the frame mainly for the photo rather than vice versa. "Oh," she said, no doubt weighing, as so many do, the likelihood of me being a collector versus the likelihood of me being "some kind of weirdo who buys other people's family photos to display in their home", and I was ready to slunk away with my $2 frame-and-picture when she added, "So you collect old pictures?"

I decided to go whole hog for once. I said, "Yes, I collect old pictures". I explained I had a whole wall of photos at the house of people not-related-to-me, and told her how much I liked to pore over the backgrounds and the clothes and think up stories about how and why and where the picture was taken. I figured I might as well state my case and THEN get called a whack job. Maybe I was just in a talkative mood. At any rate, the lady goes, "Well, if you're interested in pictures, there's three, four whole boxes of them in that back bedroom closet that a cousin of mine was going to come and take, and then turned out he didn't want 'em. Why don't you go and take a look and see if they're anything you could use?"

The high waisted pants, the fedora, the cigarette. SWAGGER..

Obviously, I had a tiny freak-out-of-the-mind and went to check out the boxes. The woman's teenage daughter came with me and we pulled out four HUGE cardboard boxes of memorabilia. Besides YEARS of vacation photos, there were slides, yearbooks, Valentine's day cards...I could tell just by sifting for a moment that there were probably a thousand different pieces of ephemera, INTACT, in one collection, that nobody wanted. "This was my aunt Doris's house," the sales lady went on to explain, "She's my mother's sister. And she doesn't have any other relatives and we've got copies of just about all these old photos, so if you want them, they're yours to take." I had been shrewdly calculating how much money I had left to give the woman to pay for the photos and good Lord,  how-much-is-she-going-to-ask-for-all-this-stuff, and she just wanted it off her hands and not in the dumpster! Jubilation! I thanked her about thirteen hundred times and filled the trunk and backseat with someone-else's-memories.

I spent the whole rest of the day in my den sorting photos by decade and trying to piece together who was related to who. I have no idea why I didn't get the woman's number so I could ask her about some of the various questions that popped up. As far as I can figure it, Doris was Ruth's sister (and Ruth is the sales lady's mother). I think they both grew up in Nashville but Ruth got married and moved to Atlanta in the 1940's. Doris married a blond man around the same time period, and had a son named after him that everyone called "Sonny" (the boy in the frame who got the whole mess started). In the mid 1950's, Doris remarried (did Sonny's father die? Did they get divorced?) Ray, a lawyer who worked for Life and Casualty Insurance. What I love from seeing picture after picture of the two of them, unposed and posed, at home and on the road, is the sense of fun you get from them. Middle aged, comfortably well-off, and at all times ready to kick their heels off and have some fun!

Photos go better with fezzes.

All the photos here are from the early and mid 60's, when they would have been married for a while. How do you like the Al Ballanco Orchestra with their Peter Pan hats and table-cloth sarongs? See Doris's keyhole dress and the white angora wrap she's carrying? Oh, and Ray's wearing a plaid sportscoat AND a fez. YOU KNOW THIS WAS A FUN EVENT TO ATTEND. I wish they had social organizations nowadays like the Shriners and the Masons must have been like "back in the day". I want an excuse to wear fancy clothes, listen to a live big band, and eat as much barbecue as I want ("you can EAT!" the banner behind them reassures me)!

The ghostliness of early Polaroids! This photo below was taken in the house where the sale was held. It was a really weird sale because the house was in a very good part of town, but the house was one, 90% empty and two, had obviously not been lived in for a long, long time. Have you been to estate sales like that, where everything's a little sun-stained or mildewed from sitting, unused, for several years? The place where we got the chord organ looked like something out of Dickens...this wasn't SO bad, but it did make me think about how many houses there probably are where someone's gone to a nursing home and no one feels quite right about selling the house or clearing it out while they're still alive. Spooky.

She always has the nicest hair.
Anyway, you'll probably be seeing more of Doris and Ray over the next few weeks as I scan in some of the more glamorous/funny/neat photos from the collection. The oldest one I have is from around the turn of the century, and they go all the way up into the early 90's! There's a lot of interesting ground in between, I promise.

Have a good weekend! Get some good stuff! See you on Monday!


  1. I can't wait to see more! :) Okay, that situation that you found yourself in? Dream scenario. I would have been gasping for air with glee. I'm glad that she could tell that you are a good egg who would treasure the mementos - maybe even more than their actual family would.

  2. I think the saddest part is that no one wanted them, although I'm pleased to see she said they had copies of most of them, so it's not like they were completely unwanted.

    I love Doris standing against that doorway that she blends in with, except those a-ma-zing sunglasses!!

    1. oh yes i need those sunglasses too! they are so fabulous i would die for them, when i was last time in madrid i saw some similiar ones from rochas but not as beautiful as these original ones
      love and kiss,mary

  3. oh wow i love all of these! i would have loved sifting through those boxes. and the pictures IN The house! the house we live in, belonged to the same family since it was built in the 40's until we bought it in 2009. I keep wanting to call the woman who we bought it from to ask if she has old pictures from the inside of the house but i'm too chicken! i need to do it!
    and seriously, how fun does that couple seem? so glamorous!

  4. Recently my Grandmother passed after spending time in the Alzheimer's unit. She was really somthing. She used to tell me whoppers like "Eat your bread crusts, and your hair will be curly." Or, "Cow *poo* makes your toenails grow." God only knows. Anyways, she was really crafty. I learned how to sew, crochet,(she advised me to tell the 2nd grade teacher I spent my summer vacation HOOKING!) and string beads.
    I inherited all of her fabric and patterns. Today I am wearing a blouse I made with some insane 50's rooster weather-vane patterned fabric she had stashed and a pattern that said "Sarah, 1963" on the front.
    So your pictures of Doris resonate with me. Life is fleeting and it's so sweet that you care about these old photos.

    1. The "hooking" thing cracked me UP. And all the rest, too. What a treasure. I can't wait to tell my kids (and grandkids) all kinds of mistruths, things-they-shouldn't-repeat, bits of doggerel, etc. I love that you can remember her with a piece of clothing made from her material, and her pattern, with knowledge she taught you. That's really neat.

      More Doris and Ray to come!



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