chocolate is a verb

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Tag Archives: Milwaukee

a single moment…

1932 - Dave Lando - Dottie
On the back of the photo, in neat handwriting that’s not my mother’s, it says Dave Lando, Dottie, May 5th, 1932. She’s 20, he’s — who knows? — a friend, a flame, a man upon whom she could lean for this moment of ease.

There are no photos of the man she would marry. All that survives of that liaison is her married name written on the cover of a sketch pad and a couple of pieces of wedding silver etched with her initials, D and A, flanking a large S.

But Dave Lando, whoever he may be, perhaps the Dave Lando who even then was studying to become a doctor, perhaps alive somewhere still, made the cut. If she looked at this photo and remembered that day, she never spoke of him. Perhaps she liked, as I do, her relaxed grace, her easy expression, the way he leans to support her as if he really likes her. Or maybe she liked, as I do, the faint ghost that surrounds their bodies, as if they were there and not there, still and moving, vibrating with youth, beauty, infatuation.

deciphering Dorothy…

Hartford Avenue SchoolI love this photograph, carefully annotated in my mother’s script. It’s graduation day for Miss Rosenthal’s class at Hartford Avenue School, the names defining the generation: Mildred, Willard, Lenore, Gertrude, Rudy. (There’s also a Lolita, decades before Nabokov.)

The wind is blowing. Walter’s tie writhes free. Gordon presses one hand against his side, the other across his middle, to hold his jacket in place. Margaret Jones reaches up to pull hair out of her mouth. Everyone but Billy Owen is excited about the day, the photo, the milestone. Billy stands alone, scowling, at the left, instead of on the right, with the other boys. What was his story?

Years later, looking at the names on this picture, did Dorothy remember these people as friends? Did she laugh at Billy Owen or recall him with a pang of longing or regret? Did the memories of teasing fade? Did the ache of exclusion from the cliques diminish into nostalgia? Or were her classmates specimens, butterflies pinned with resentment to the map of her past?…