Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Bathroom Photographs, 3

A little series about the photographs hanging on the walls in the little half-bath that's near my study.

Okay, in earlier posts I've written about the picture of my great-grandfather Dyer and his family (late 1880s),about the 1959 picture of my two brothers and me in Rugby, ND ("the geographical center of North America"). And now this ...

Again, the Three Dyer Boys are together. At the time (left to right) we were Davi, Danny, and Dickie Dyer. (Maturity--or, rather, additional years--converted our names to Dave/Davis, Dan/Daniel, Richard.) I think I was in junior high when I decided "Danny" would be no more. I started insisting on "Dan"--still my name to most--though I've always published as "Daniel" (sounds more ... what? ... respectable? venerable?). My mom and brothers still use "Danny" now and then--as does Joyce, my wife.

The picture dates from around 1950, I guess (Davi was born in September 1948--he looks kind of two-ish or three-ish, doesn't he?). I turned six in 1950 (late in the year). Dickie turned nine late that year--very late (his birthday is in late December).

I actually remember a few things about that day. We were in a photographer's studio in Enid, Oklahoma, all sitting on a little hassock. It was beige leather (or faux leather?). The photographer told me to straddle it as if I were riding a horse. And that endeared him to me forever, for I was already certain that I was going to be a cowboy. I mean, someone had to take over the protection of the West once the Lone Ranger and the Cisco Kid and Hopalong Cassidy retired, right?

We're all wearing somewhat formal clothing--even little Davi, whose suit coat is buttoned to the top. Our collars are all out (very fashionable!)--no neckties. So it must be summer, when even church--normally a fierce formality in our family--relaxed its dress code a bit in the oppressive Oklahoma heat. My coat is fluffed up a little at the bottom. Needs to be smoothed down. I'm guessing that my mom or grandmother made those jackets for Dickie and me. Both were wonderful at the sewing machine, and among the last manual skills my mother lost was her stitching on the quilts she made for all of us. Davi's is certainly homemade.

Another clue that it's summer? I'm smiling. School's out. If you had told me then that I would become a teacher, would spend my entire adult career in schoolrooms, I would have laughed in your stupid fat face. Go willingly to school? No way! Like Shakespeare's "whining schoolboy," I was the kid "creeping like snail unwillingly to school."

We're all smiling, all showing our teeth, though Dickie has recently lost one. My tongue, for some reason, has decided to come out for some air and lies poised beneath my upper teeth and if I'm about to say "lasso." What's odd to me now? I never show my teeth in posed photographs now. Not sure why. Probably some deep psychological trauma, long unresolved.

Our haircuts are virtually the same--as they would be until adolescence when Teen Angst brought to our mouths some different words to tell the barber. I will not--for the sake of Family Harmony--reveal which one of us no longer has much hair. That would be unkind. Davi was the only blond among us--though we all have blue eyes. Dickie and I had darker hair, though when I was a lad and played outdoors in the summer from dawn to dark, I would sometimes get a little sun-bleached streak in front, a faint streak evident in this school photograph (accidentally torn)--look right next to the part--a little wisp of blond. (Now, of course, it's virtually all white.) (No comments on my taste in attire for a school photo.)

Dickie seems to be looking at the camera; Davi and I are looking more to the left. Is that where Mom is? Surely she was--at the moment--urging us to smile? To show our teeth?

My ears seem a little more ... prominent than those of my brothers. Odd, because I did not listen too well as a kid. (Still don't.)

Our hands are weird. Davi seems uncertain what to do with his. My left hand--a little blurred--seems in motion, perhaps to smack away Dickie's hand, which, oddly, seems to be under my leg. My right hand is probably on the six-shooter I didn't have but wished I did.

So ... three smiling hopeful little boys (who can't wait to get home to change out of those hot church clothes). Two of us our in our seventies, making us some ten years older than our Osborn grandparents were on that day. G. Edwin and Alma Lanterman Osborn lived near us in Enid then. In my view they were ancient. Our parents were also very old. In 1950 my mom turned 31, my dad 37.

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