Our thinnest memories of youth arise from snapshots

By Lynn Moncus

Recently, one of my former students and close friends, Lucy Nials, handed me copies of some snapshots she had taken of Mother and me in 1957. What a shock! What happened to that young person in those pictures? Few people would recognize her now, and she hardly recognizes herself after all these years.

They were taken at the end of my first year of teaching here and showed a person who was almost too thin to cast a shadow. Of course, those of you who also knew my mother would realize how much the two of us looked alike and can probably remember that we often answered to each other’s names because a lot of people had trouble in telling us apart. Mother would come home after work to tell me she had visited with some of my students along the way and that they thought they were visiting with me. We usually didn’t even try to explain the difference in order to avoid causing embarrassment and because we knew how the other would answer questions. What fun!

One of the snapshots showed me just after I had dismounted from a horse and really emphasized those bowed legs that caused me more than a few problems, especially in college. The band director there was not exactly a favorite person of mine because he didn’t really like bow-legged girls as they made the band look sloppy while we were standing at attention. Naturally, I rather resented that and was just a bit pleased that I could look down on the little shrimp as he would explain my deformity. Of course, I would have been even taller had those legs been straight, but I was most definitely tall enough to look down at the top of his head as he pitched his various tantrums about people from our part of the world being slightly less than civilized. I just wish I had thought of resting my elbow on his head while he raged.

That same snapshot also made me look even skinnier than the one Lucy took at school because I was attired in tight Levi’s. At least, the one taken at school didn’t emphasize the total absence of a figure. I reckon I should also point out that I maintained that all-too-slender appearance until well into middle age when I began to add much unnecessary fat. Most people who have known me only during my retirement years would have no idea that I had put on almost 80 pounds since that long ago year. Actually, I guess I should have tried to keep off that weight so I could have finally been in style without even having to pay to be thin. On the other hand, I have felt fairly well most of the time since adding some of those pounds and certainly haven’t had to carry as many heavy rocks in my pockets during our wind storms.

If you haven’t looked at some of the pictures taken in your youth, you might get them out to share with others in order to give them and you something to laugh about. I am really glad that Lucy had kept those snapshots from that year during which she was in one of my junior high English classes. She and I have remained close through the years, and she certainly is one of the few students who ever went horseback riding with me at that time. We can now both look back and wonder what happened to “our lost youth.”