It’s easy to look back at grainy black and white photographs of times gone by and let the difference imposed by the medium convince me that those times were different. As if my grandparents wore only gray and lived in gray houses with gray shrubs outside and gray cake for birthdays. As if yellow and orange were invented in 1963.
It’s easy to keep those times at a further distance because everything I see in those images shouts “NOT LIKE YOU!”
Then I see images like this one:
This was taken around 1940, using a brand new invention called Kodachrome (color film). As my friend, Cindy, said: “I look at them and my mind just can’t believe they are in color. My brain is telling me that photos from that time period are supposed to be black and white. It’s a weird feeling when looking at them.”
Pink satin! Gold braid! A piece of cardboard to keep the green grass from staining the white satin of your skirt. A thin gold bracelet. A sparkly ring. Sun on a calf and the peak of a thigh. Shadows and squinting into that bright bright sun.
They had never seen a television or heard of World War Two. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was their president, again.
Imagine the same picture in black and white. Oh wait! I have software that can make that happen:
Now they look like 1940. I notice the hairstyles and the sheen of the satin, but the pink has disappeared into the myth of “they were not like us.”
This is what my grandmothers would have looked like in their younger days. Sitting on the grass, in the sun, at the fair.
Just like us.