Tuesday, March 2, 2010
PORTRAITS -- FAMILY AND OTHERWISE
People on the prairies are proud of their affiliations. The SS Strachans don't appear to be church-goers, but they are very school conscious and to them a "family" is not just genetic. It's a sort of business in which everyone is shareholders, "Papa" is CEO. This one-room school group is marked " September 1,1920, West Favel School. Miss McDougal, teacher." See Martha Ostenso's "Wild Geese" or the movie version, "After the Harvest" for a version of this pattern than had gone toxic and for a depiction of a school teacher's life in that time and place. Miss McDougal would have lived with a family, but evidently not with the Strachans.
My father the photographer cherished his self-timer on the camera which caused some people to suspect that he had a secret partner who went around with him so he could be in the photos. But it buzzed for about three minutes before it took the photo, which was so long that those portrayed got tired of waiting. It was June, which can be pretty hot. And sometimes it just didn't "fire," so the photographer would go to investigate. Good thing it wasn't a firecracker.
This is one of my favorite photos, a kind of Ingmar Bergman "Wild Strawberries" image of a Sunday afternoon. Seth, the youngest, is firmly anchored in his Buddha pose by the two women. "Papa" is his usual patient self. Glenn is more stoic than Bruce, and where did Bruce's tie go?