Gorgeous Giggling Girls

1970s USA

Here we see two best friends in a photobooth having a fabulous time together. Their closeness is undeniable. In the second and third photos, the girl at the back cuddles her friend, who reacts with a spontaneous burst of dimpled joy.

The marker pen scrawlings of graffiti on the background curtain add something to the feeling of time and place of the strip. It suggests that this booth was in an unpatolled public area, somewhere like a railway, subway or bus station. Department store, bowling alley or night club booths never get this shoddy treatment.

Why, oh why, is this photo in my collection here in Australia? Why is it not being treasured by one of the girls or at the very least a member of their family?

Maybe there are some visible clues as to what happened? The strip was folded twice at the end of each photo, to make it easier to slip into a purse or handbag. That tells me that the photo was valued enough on the day it was made, for the owner to want to be sure it arrived home unscathed.

On the back, there are remnants of the sticky residue that is left from those dreadful, photo-destroying, self-stick albums of the 1970s. That suggests that the value of the images extended well beyond the day they were made.

There is a crease across the bottom of the strip. How could that have happened? If the girls had had a falling out, the owner of the strip would most likely have torn it up or thrown it out, not just randomly bent one edge. Could the crease be accidental and have happened when the album was being looked through? Those self-stick albums age in one of two ways. Either the photos are permanently fastened to the pages (oh, the horror!) or they slide out and end up all over the place. Some might fall on the floor or table. Others might be tucked carelessly back inside where they could easily be squashed and buckled.

Or could the strip have fallen on the floor and been used as a bookmark, until such time as it was replaced in the old album or a newer one? In that case it could so easily have been forgotten. Books tend to be given away or sold more often than other household items. I have been given some photobooth photos by a friend who found them while browsing in a charity shop, so that is my preferred theory. It consoles me to think that they were accidentally parted from the owner, not deliberately sold off due to apathy or avarice.

I’m sure you have heard such theories from me before. I hope anyone who reads this post, treasures their family memories and treats them with the love and respect they deserve. No more orphaned photos please!

40 comments
  1. I love this strip. The feeling of exuberance is intoxicating… the way they break into laughter.

    p.s. I see The Junior Detective has come out to play…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yup, Trainee Sherlock me! Glad you love it too, Ted. It really makes me happy to see them!

      Like

  2. I agree with Ted. This is a great strip. I wish I had heard (and heeded) your advice long ago. Sadly, the “oldest” photos I still have access to are a product of the digital storage era.

    This is one of the many reasons I love your blog so much. These are virtual strolls down memory lane, and a chance to fill in the blanks with stories of my own.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wonderful comment Gabe! Thank you. I’m sad you don’t have your early photos, but you are making new ones, now. They need to be treasured too, and are a damned side easier to look after digitally. But beware of technological obsolescence!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. oglach said:

    Thank goodness there are people like you to rescue these orphaned photos. That way your readers can invent stories for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this strip. This has got to be the holy grail for you, when you find a strip that shows people being fully themselves in the moment, unconcerned with outside perception. These young women clearly enjoy themselves and each other and you can see the lack of pretense in their faces.

    Liked by 1 person

    • P.S. Those “magnetic” photo albums were a thing through the 2000s. I used them for my own photos, unfortunately. I removed them all from the albums a few years ago and the backs are all now permanently sticky. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      • Goodness, I had no idea they had lasted that long. Yes, that stickiness isn’t removable, sadly.

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    • Gorgeous comment, thanks Jim! Yes, you are right, it is a great find! I need to let you in on a wee secret, though. I bought a big lot of photobooth strips several years ago. I only just realised that what I thought was one strip, was two stuck together. Luckily it was easy to separate them. This strip was on the bottom layer. I was so thrilled, as I had had no idea it was there. It was a wonderful surprise, as it easily exceeded the quality of the rest of the photos.

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  5. Kate said:

    These are so beautiful! They look so happy, a moment to treasure indeed. Thank you for saving these photos.
    Have you seen the rescuedfilmproject? They develop orphan films, https://www.instagram.com/rescuedfilm/ it’s a different kind of image to your lovely photobooth orphans, but still interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I will need some time to fully explore the account. Just the few I have seen are wonderful for their textures, blotches and other idiosyncrasies. Th eons that are less marred by time are lovely, too.

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  6. The love shows on the faces. You have wonderful powers of deduction. Maybe the girls came to Australia, used this precious photo as a bookmark (as you say) and then lost it. Highly feasible.

    Shouldn’t there be a 4th photo?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are probably correct as is in evidence in the slightly uneven top edge of the strip. Very well spotted! The strips for these slightly larger format booth photos can be either three or four photos. The ones in Australia were three. Now who has the powers of deduction? 😁

      Like

  7. Beautiful strip, beautiful people. Thanks for sharing, and I like your interpretation. The graffiti adds texture and context.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. When I look through your collection, I always ask myself, how does it happen that the photographs end up on ebay. Once I took a shortcut through an overgrown part of the park and came across an old photoalbum. My guess was that there was a robbery and the thief took some random items and threw away the album. I took it to the police station. I also found a photograph in a second hand book years ago, but I don’t remember what I did with it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My goodness, Inese. What a story! I would be totally devastated if photo albums were stolen. They could take almost anything else. I wonder if the album was ever claimed?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have no idea. I was on my holidays, just passing through the country.
        Yes, the same here. Family photographs are my treasure. My poor Grandmother almost destroyed a photo album when she was already very unwell. I was very sad – it happened before the digital era, so the photographs were lost forever.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Good of you to take it to the police station Inese. One more reason to put one’s name AND phone number on the albums. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’m trying to catch up with twenty years of neglecting to do that! I know why it is so often avoided. It is a tedious and thankless job. ☹️

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is. But has to be done. I’ve finished digitalizing 95% of my parents’ albums. Took me about 3 years. And some legends are missing. Like: I know those people but what was their name. I will next set up to digitalize their 8mm and super 8 movies. A titanic task! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

          • They are now historical rarities, spanning Asia and Africa form 1948 to 1971. Preservation is relatively easy: store in a dark dry place, but now I really need to digitalize them (colours are fading). And that will cost a bit, but it’s all right. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yes, they must be much harder to digitise than prints and therefore expensive. I hope all your family appreciates you work to preserve the history.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Haha! Actually my 2 brothers are pushing me to do it. 🙂 Which is just as well because soon nobody will know what happened in those time. 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

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