The Long Way Home


From My Mother’s Shirt Box Archives
March 22, 2010, 8:28 PM
Filed under: Vintage Photo Album | Tags: , , , ,

In 1970, a man from Vivyan Photography  walked into the lobby of the Pittsburgh Hilton and noticed two pretty girls working at the front desk. One was a blond with dark blue eyes, short, bobbed hair and pale skin, and the other had big green cat-like eyes, her hair framing her face like a jet black curtain. He liked their contrast  of dark and light, so he asked them to model. The blond is my mother and the raven-haired beauty her best friend, my godmother. They were 19 in these pictures.

Out of all the jobs my mum had over the years, working at the Hilton was her favorite. She was right out of high school, sharing an apartment with 4 other women, wearing mini skirts up to her bottom, taking weekend trips to Virginia Beach via stand-by flights. I remember as a kid all the trinkets she had saved from those trips before she met my father: a TWA mini-purse that I used  as a pencil case; a towel that said ‘Virginia is for Lovers,’ the o in lovers a heart; the endless pictures of her and her friends, windswept and sunburned in gingham bikinis. When I look through her photos, I swear I still smell the amber perfume that permeated my godmother’s house, hear the chime of my mother’s gypsy hoops as she talks about needing a long over-due vacation. 

Mummy and Maggie, 1970

folded into fours, then found again

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12 Comments so far
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i actually love your writing type, very charming,
don’t give up and also keep creating considering the fact that it simply just well worth to look through it,
impatient to read much more of your own well written articles, thankx!

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Comment by PlaupleNalPaw

I bet they were heartbreakers back then – I mean that in the best of ways. Old photos are intimate things. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

I love how you mentioned the smell of her perfume. Just today, a random odor triggered a memory from when I was five. Our bodies are such sponges.

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Comment by Sarah

I can’t wait til you put up the one of Maggie looking like a Black Sabbath album cover- i love that one!

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Comment by Jeff

There is one of Mags with the orange hooded dress, holding a candle. It’s pretty amazing – that will be part of my future wedding blog.

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Comment by Lisa

I LOVE these; they remind me that the 60’s were not full-on about decadence and “druggies” but also about innocence and exploration.

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Comment by Becky

That’s why I loved these photos too, especially in light of the tough year my mother has had — she once had a much simpler, happy time in her life.

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Comment by Lisa

how many more pictures are there? I love these photos

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Comment by Bill

Thanks, B – I always loved these photos too. She has boxes full of really great photos like this, so my goal is to get them scanned for my files. I wish I could find the original photographer, but the studio in the West End is gone.

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Comment by Lisa

most of the west end is gone, too! 😦

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Comment by Bill

I looked up the address of the studio on Google maps and it’s now a residential property.

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Comment by Lisa

those are lovely–where did you find those?

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Comment by kim rullo

My mother’s house — she’s the blond in the photos!
She has all her old photos stored in old Gimbel’s shirt boxes. A few years ago, she pulled a few photos out and framed them. I love the creases in the black and white one, as if it were folded into someone’s wallet, or book to mark a place. So that my mother was always with him or her.

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Comment by Lisa




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