Monday, May 23, 2011

The Girl in Black

The booth sat on the midway near the pony rides not far from the race track. The smell of ponies and cotton candy sat on the hot summer air. An August day in the mid 1950's.

Artists sketch whimsical faces of children and adults. We watch them when we go to Seaside using their color pencils as they sketch tourists. Visitors go home with a souvenirs of their journey to the Pacific Ocean. My ex and I had such a drawing made on our honeymoon. I have pictures sketched of my children. Art that takes us from the past to the present wrapped in warm memories of a moment in time.

Mom dressed me in my best Sunday dress. A little pink frock with a row of buttons and rows of lace down the front. I didn't have many new dresses. I remember each one. My hair was combed and styled. This little country urchin wore her white patten leather shoes. I knew I was off to do something special. I knew because it wasn't Sunday.

We walked down the midway of the fairgrounds past the souvenir vendor. The smell of ponies permeated the air. I remember the day well. My parents and I stopped in front of a man sitting on a chair. He sat clipping, scissors in hand and bits of black paper scattered on the ground around him like fallen snow. His art had roots that began in the 18th century. Profiles captured in paper before photography came to visit.

For years the silhouette of that little girl has gone from home to home in box after box. It has resided in a box with all the other family papers collected over the years. Finally I pulled it from the box.

"This is me," I told my granddaughters.

They gathered around the shadow on paper touching the profile skillfully cut. The story unfolded of a little girl in her pink dress with a bow in her hair. A piece of my history and the history of another time came to life.

I don't think I sat atop one of those ponies that day. No, I was dressed in my Sunday best to preserve the memory of a special day at the fair.

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