Preamble: A preliminary statement, especially the introduction to a formal document that serves to explain its purpose.
A preamble is normally written before a document—I’m adding this preamble after I posted the document below. My daughter, the one that lives, loves and works in Northern Virginia, the one that I love best, but don’t tell the other two daughters I said that—tasked me with answering several questions concerning the person in this photo. In the interests of levity, I assumed the character of a criminal investigator in analyzing the photo in response to my daughter’s request. I identified her merely as a relative in Virginia, and she took umbrage—this addition to the posting is my attempt to correct my blunder. And in the interests of full disclosure, I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be a criminal investigator, not in Washington DC or any other location. I merely presented myself as such in order to bolster my analysis of the photo.
The photo is an accurate depiction of my mother’s youngest son—me—and virtually all of the information I posted is true. The only time I seriously strayed from the truth was the part about studying photos from various high school yearbooks while working in the Washington DC area—I freely admit that it was a real whopper! However, that I worked in that area for three years is a true statement—so help me, you know Who.
Here is the original posting, unchanged. The only difference is the addition of the preamble above—my search for an antonym to preamble was fruitless. I suppose we could call it a postamble—we could run that term up the flagpole and see who salutes it!
I recently received this photo from a relative in Virginia, accompanied with a request for me to apply the training I received over many years in the field of law enforcement and answer as many of the questions below as I could, with the answers based on the expertise I acquired—expertise in the use of observational techniques and in the questioning routines I used in conversations with subjects suspected of various crimes.
These are the questions:
Tell me something about this fella—-where he was mentally and physically at this time…How old was he? What was he was thinking about? What aspirations did he have? He looks so pensive and serious. What was he dreaming about?
It was an unusual request, but it posed a challenge for me. There are, of course, more visual and physical traits to be observed when faced with the actual suspect, but some definitive conclusions can be reached simply by studying a photograph.
This young man, for example, has an exceptionally well-formed head with an Adonis-like visage. Each feature—eyes, ears, nose, mouth, cheekbones and chin—are in perfect harmony with the other features. Any observer would view him as a handsome young lad, undoubtedly popular with the girls and envied by his male peers. That beautifully coiffed hair places the boy in the company of Narcissus, and at this age the lad undoubtedly spent lots of time looking into a mirror. Narcissus, of course, fell in love with a reflection in a pool, not realizing it was his own. The photograph reflects no doubt—this young fellow knows exactly what he sees in the mirror and he is well-pleased with the image, a pleasure bordering on self-adulation.
Whether this teenager ever enjoyed any significant contacts with the opposite sex based on his looks would be pure speculation, and an investigator never, ever speculates—any investigative conclusions must be based on demonstrable facts.
Some conclusions may instantly be made—the photo is that of a young boy, perhaps in his early to middle teen years—he is white, Anglo-Saxon, with perhaps a bit of the old Irish in him. His age is somewhere between fourteen and fifteen years. He has a delightful sprinkling of freckles, indicating that most of his years have been spent in sunny southern climes in a state, or states, well below the Mason-Dixon line. The hair style is representative of those affected by youths in the middle to late 1940s. I believe this photo was taken in late 1946 or early in 1947.
The source of the photo can often be helpful. One can deduce that the photo is not the work of a professional portrait studio. If it were, it would show the company’s name and logo near the lower edge—Olan Mills, for example. By an unusual coincidence, I worked in the Washington, D.C. area for three years, and on an unrelated assignment I studied student photos in the yearbooks of several schools in the DC area—although some 13 years have passed since the assignment, I still vividly remember the photos.
This photo, judging by the pose of the subject and the clarity of the portrait, matches very closely the attributes of yearbook photos taken of students at Suitland High School in the city of Suitland, Maryland—the photo in question was published in that school’s year book for the period cited.
An astute observer will instantly be drawn to the left eye—it’s ever so slightly squinted, caused by a deliberate but subtle lowering of the eye’s upper lid. No definite conclusions can be drawn from that squint, but here are some possible causes:
It could be that the photographer is an attractive young female, and her subject is speculating on his chances of getting it on with her, a term similar with today’s term of making out. It could be that the photographer is a school staff member, one for which the subject has no particular fondness—the squint could be saying, “Don’t screw it up—either do it right, or don’t do it!”
That squint is, perhaps, in imitation of some Hollywood actor favored by the subject, and is thus used in such situations. I must confess that I use it, but infrequently, and I believe that one of my own three offspring also utilizes the squint as needed in certain situations.
This unusual and interesting habit of squinting one eye is sometimes reflected in a person or persons closely associated with the squinter—a brother or sister, or a relative of the squinter, perhaps a daughter or son—daughters and sons sometimes tend to imitate one or more habitual physical traits exhibited by their father.
That squinted left eye leaves me with the thought that this lad did, for one reason or another, not complete the current school year at this high school. He probably dropped out of class near the end of the second semester. His failure to complete the year may have been caused by having to relocate in a distant city, or because he converted his thoughts concerning the photographer into action, or perhaps he broke his leg while playing in an American Legion Little League baseball game, or for some other completely unrelated reason.
As for this lad’s aspirations for the future, that’s very difficult to discern. My best guess is that his aspirations at that time were similar to those of Jethro, of Beverly Hillbillies fame—Jethro vacillated between becoming a brain surgeon or a short-order cook.
I believe this lad, at this time in his life, vacillated between becoming an old-time cowboy, broad of shoulder and tall—yeah, good luck with that—and lean of hip, with steely gray eyes perpetually squinted from checking the horizon for Indians and badmen—either that, or a bus driver.
Of course I could be wrong.
February 19, 2010 at 8:08 pm
Most excellent! I knew you would do it justice AND you wouldn’t walk away from the challenge. I could keep you busy with at least 1200 more photos. Are you up for it, oh prolific wordsmith?
Although I am wondering why I was demoted from “most favored princess who lives, loves and works in Virginia” to merely “a relative in Virginia.”
February 19, 2010 at 9:44 pm
In answer to your question of whether I am “up for it,” I am up for anything you may throw at me, unless it be something that is sharp or stinks or bites—everything else I can handle.
Don’t worry about the mule, just load the wagon!
Please be advised that I had no intent to demote you. Don’t take a step back, or you will fall from one of the highest pedestals on which any father could place a daughter.
However—and this is a huge however—I worked in obscurity for many years before I retired, always unknown and unacknowledged, and my desire following my retirement was to maintain those attributes. Until this moment I have stayed below the radar by shrouding myself in the cloak of anonymity, and with this comment you have definitely outed me.
Now every viewer will know that the cute fellow in the photo, the one whose visage so vividly portends a doer of great deeds in high places in far-flung lands, far distant from his starting place in Possum Town, Alabama—that fellow is your father, the King of Texas.
Hey, come to think of it, my passage from Possum Town, Alabama to the the king’s throne in the great state of Texas ain’t too shabby!
February 20, 2010 at 8:22 am
To my daughter in Virginia—please note that I have added a postamble to this posting. Don’t bother to look for a definition of postamble—I just made it up.
I first identified you as merely a relative in Virginia, not as one of my three princesses, and unfortunately you took umbrage.
Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa maxima! I stand guilty as charged and I have made a determined effort to atone for that guilt. See for yourself—check out my addition to the original posting.
February 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm
You two are hilarious! That writing and the responses are pricleless. I can hardly wait for the next 1200 photos!! Keep it coming!
P.S. I received terrific news from a Virginia source about one of my next door neighbors. I am so happy for that wonderful news! (Make that “We” are so happy concerning the news!)
February 20, 2010 at 10:12 pm
Hi, neighbor—thanks for the comment. Yes, the news was terrific, and we celebrated with lunch at the Cracker Barrel on I35—pot roast with mashed potatoes, brown gravy with mushrooms, and green beans, cornbread and biscuits—burp!
We aren’t out of the woods yet—almost but not quite. We caught a quick glimpse through the trees of a sun-drenched clearing. We have three treatments to go, each three weeks apart. If the new stuff keeps up the good work, there’s a chance, somewhere between fair and excellent, that we will be inside the remission area and in that clearing soon.
I saw Bambi and Thumper and Flower in the meadow, gamboling among the buttercups and primroses, chasing grasshoppers and butterflies.
Janie thinks it was my imagination, but hey, I
know what I saw!