Another found photograph with such potential.
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The back of the image says:
“Mother & Connie”
I’m not old enough to have been in the Fox Motel in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in August, 1955, but this photograph brought a smile and many childhood memories.
I’ve stayed there many times as a kid. The Fox Motel was my grandparent’s favorite motel when they visited Gatlinburg, which was often. They preferred supporting small, family owned businesses, because they appreciated those who did the same for their business. I preferred the Fox Motel because it was, as the sign advertised, located at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains.
At the time, nothing existed beyond the motel. If you drove out of the parking lot and turned right, you were headed for a strip of tourist shops and restaurants and fun things to do and see. Turn left, and you were in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park before you straightened the steering wheel. No matter how bright the sun was on the Gatlinburg streets behind, it disappeared for parts of your drive up the mountains.
If you were lucky, you’d see bears. If you weren’t lucky, you had to settle for the spray of waterfalls and the view from Clingman’s Dome, and Cherokee, North Carolina on the other side. That’s why millions of visitors go there. It’s why people like Connie and I went, even if we didn’t know each other.
But back to the photograph.
At first, the “Mother & Connie” caption confused me. I don’t think “mother” is Connie’s mother. I think Connie’s mom or dad made the image, and “Mother” is her or his mother, Connie’s grandmother. I guess they could have kidnapped a girl and named her Connie, and posed her with “Mother”. After all, the Smoky Mountains is a great place to raise somebody’s kid.
That’s one place I wanted to take the story based. Another is the obvious low-hanging fruit, namely the light leak in the left of the image, or the banshee, or whatever is coming or going. Whatever it is, only Connie sees it, and she’s not alarmed. I’m thinking that “Mother” probably tapped the metal seat next to her, and tried to teach Connie to say, “come on,” “come on,” until the mist finally obeyed.
Another place I wanted to take the photograph was to explore a possible link between strangers from different families that got to know each other decades later through found photos left in the room, first by accident, then on purpose. I’d like to believe that our families stayed in the same room at the Fox Motel, just at different times.
I could write something about the schizophrenic pose of “Mother,” and how she appears all buttoned-down on one side, and relaxed on the other, and have it not be about Connie at all. Or we could go the fine art analysis route, and critique the image using one of the methods.
For now, let’s simply go with what I felt when I first saw the image, and what I’m still saying. I’m in love with Connie, and I hope the best for her. Never mind that she would be, or would have been, or is in her mid-60s now, I love that face.
I hope her life as been as happy as she appears to be in the image, and I hope the Mother’s life was happier than what shows in her face. I hope Connie sees this photograph, and that it brings a smile, as it did when I first saw it.
So I guess today’s writing is not about a story at all, but it’s still about hope. It almost always is. Almost.
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