Recent catastrophic events and being quarantined at home have given many of us the time and opportunity to reflect on the pre-pandemic past. Although you somehow mastered ordering …
Recent catastrophic events and being quarantined at home have given many of us the time and opportunity to reflect on the pre-pandemic past. Although you somehow mastered ordering hairspray, glitter glue and playing poker on the internet, you were never very good with the computer. These days, I’m seeing a lot of people taking strolls down memory lane on “the Facebook” (as you would say) and decided to join in.
Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and while we’re separated at this time, I wish with all my heart that we could spend it together. Leafing through the yellowed pages chronicling the years, one thing is clear: You were (IMHO) a wonderful mom. Sure, there were troubled waters—everyone has them, but the good times outweighed the bad… which, ironically, rhymes with “dad.” While I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, I have vivid memories of my childhood growing up in that wondrous Victorian house in Binghamton, NY during the formative “Wonder Years,” and thought you might want to see some of these old photos, too.
Whether they’re fuzzy black-and-white images that serve to remind that my youth is long gone, or more colorful illustrations of poor wardrobe choices that define a generation, I feel a need to thank you, Mom, for being my biggest fan, and always in my corner through thick and thin. I’d like to say that you look great in all of these pictures, but I wasn’t the photographer then that I am now, and some of these were taken eons before I came along. This photo of sister Vicki’s birthday party for instance: I’m not even in it, but you looked so much like Lucille Ball that I remember thinking that you were on TV in your spare time. Granted, I was a toddler, but still… the resemblance is uncanny.
Somehow, you managed to look glamorous, even with little Vicki at your side and baby me on your knee, and according to the photo attached, it was 1954. Dear Lord, am I really that old? I still remember how angry you were that I attached the words “Mommy Dearest” to this photo of 15-year-old Bobbysoxer you on the roof and remember when you caught me doing the same. My snotty response to you then echoed a sentiment you often exclaimed: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” As I recall, you were “less than thrilled” with my response. You once told me that Gramma named you after Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Crawford; I thought (at the time) that it was funny, but in the wake of Crawford’s daughter Christina and her controversial memoir, you assured me that it was not, so I hid it away until today. Sorry, Mom.
Before color film existed, artists hand-tinted photos like this gorgeous one of you at 18, replete with a hand-written note to Bubby (your Gramma) and this treasured keepsake always makes me smile. On the other hand, this pic from my Bar Mitzvah (1967) is mortifying, but I distinctly recall you taking me shopping at Saul Stearns (“Fine men’s clothing since 1929”) in Binghamton, NY for the outfit, and the handmade crocheted sweaters you whipped up for yourself and Brutus the Chihuahua in the ‘70s? Oy. All one has to do is take a look at me in my plaid pants and white seersucker jacket to grasp that you were “advising” me on my wardrobe, too. I call these photos “the good, the bad and the ugly,” but everyone agrees that you are one gorgeous gal.
Happy Mother’s Day. I love you mom; I’ll see you sooner than later.
Barbara Joan Fox died on November 21, 2010. Gone, but not forgotten. Call your mother—you’ll be glad that you did.