Photobooth Time Machines

This is a summary of the changes we saw in Becky in the larger series of strips of Becky and Friends. Becky must have been born in 1955, as from information on one of the strips, she was 22 in 1977.  As many of the photos are undated, the sequence is a guess based on the few confirmed dates from the backs of the strips. I think I have it pretty well correct.

One of my favourite parts of collecting booth photos is seeing the changes in people over time. It is unusual to find so many over such a long period.

Please click on the first photo to see the gallery in a larger format .

Meet Mike Fiveson and his family. I have never met Mr Fiveson but I think I would like him very much. He replies with care and frankness to all the comments made on his blog. He answers emails, makes kind offers and fulfills his promises.

These photos represent a snapshot of Mike’s life from the early 1970s to mid 1980s. He is pictured with his wife, Judy and son, Matt. Fabulously, in January, Judy and Mike will be celebrating 41 years of married life.

Mike has a heartfelt and sometimes very touching blog. Located in the USA he tells tales of his daily life and travels, his past and present.  A mutual interest in photography helped to spark our friendship. How I love the internet!

Mike writes, “There is one  picture of me in 1972 when, after serving in the navy for 4 years, I grew my hair some. The strip with Matt was taken in maybe 1984 because he looks to be about 5 or 6. The ones with just Judy and I go back to the 70’s, before Matt was born.”

One member of Mike’s family is missing from these photobooth souvenirs. One day, I hope a certain Golden Retriever named Pumpkin will sneak into a booth, email me some scans and complete the story!

Check out Mike’s blog here.

Tim is my much adored brother-in-law, a native Dubliner, husband to my sister, Sue, and father to Penelope (above) and Calvin. He is a sparky (electrician) and in all the recent economic troubles of Ireland, he has rarely, if ever, been without work.  Why ? Timmy works hard, but better than that he gets on well with everyone and people enjoy having him around. He is a very likeable bloke, despite his desire to appear curmudgeonly. Like most Irish men (and women, now I come to think about it,) he loves a drink. Imbibing makes his, frequently incomprehensible, Irish accent, fluid, mellifluous, and colourful in a way that makes for many an amusing evening.  Yes, Tim, when you are drunk you are funny – very, very funny.

Unlike most men I know, Timo’s first thought on coming home from work is to get out with the kids to play games.  He doesn’t pause for a rest or cuppa. He adores his babies, and of course they adore him back. He cooks! Like me, he stirs the pasta with the same spoon as the sauce, which never fails to annoy my little sister. But hey, he cooks! (Or maybe that only happens when I am visiting them in Ireland? Lets wait for some comments from his sisters and wife to see…)

All up he is a top guy whose only failing is to have taken my sister so far away from Australia. I have almost forgiven him for that, due to him having given us Aussies beautiful Irish grandchildren/a nephew and a niece. Love ya Timmy! (And he says “Grrrumpf” back.)

Responding to the same letter as Cherie in 1997, I received another set of photos from a photobooth enthusiast, Jessica Lea.

Contrary to my memory that it was New Idea that had published my request, Jessica mentions, Woman’s Day in the note that accompanied the photos. Unlike Cherie’s contribution, there was no return address included, so I am not sure I will have the same success at finding Ms/Mrs Lea after so many years. I have already started the detective work, with no luck so far.

I cannot agree with Jessica that she is unphotogenic, except, perhaps, with the exception of the first photo. However, it must be asked, who at that age has ever taken a great photo? I love the transformation of the gawky young girl into a confidant and kindly faced, mature woman. Her photos exude the spirit of enthusiasm that prompted her to send these keepsakes to a stranger.

I do hope I find Jessica, or that she finds me.  I am sure I would like her very much.

When I was living in Leicester and my cousin Krissie was living in London, for fun, I started writing her name as Xie. I used the X the same way it is used for the “Chris” syllable, as found in the spelling Xmas.*  It is her Rock-Girl Superstar name, which fits her perfectly, because to me she is a superstar.

Xie is as optimistic and generous as her mum and has an amazing sense of humour. She loves dogs, walking, fun and being mischievous…and cigarettes. Xie adores cigarettes. (I occasionally share one or two with her, just to stop her feeling like a pariah, you understand.) She is also a fabulous mother to her 9-year-old son, Ryan, who is the baby in the pics, and a supportive and loving wife to her hubby, Tony, also pictured.

To spend time with Xie is to be entertained, to laugh and be uplifted. She is one of my most favourite people in the world, but of course from what I have just written, you didn’t already know that!

The only down side in this cousinly love affair is, that apart from a blissful 2 years in the UK, we have never lived in the same country. Even then, when we finally managed to be on the same island, we were not in the same region. We made as much time as possible to see each other, always including her sister Rachel, when we could, and had some fine adventures exploring the countryside around Leicester and cool shops and cafés in London.

These pics were taken over a relatively short period, mostly in the UK, and are in chronological order.

* As I don’t know anyone who pronounces the “t” in “Chris’mas”.

NB For those of you with an etymological bent, the spelling Xmas should be pronounced the same way you’d say Christmas. The X comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the Greek word Χριστός, translated as “Christ“. Xp was also a commonly used form to shorten the manual labour of producing hand written manuscripts. Wikipedia has a great article on the 1000 year-long history of this abbreviation.

Cherie and Kelly

Cherie and Eileen

Cherie Passport Photo 1995

On the 7th of November I posted a story about Cherie who had sent me some photos, after I wrote to New Idea Magazine about my photobooth collection. I asked if any of their readers would like to contribute pictures and Cherie responded. Since publishing the post I have been busily trying to find Cherie and my darling Facebook came to my aid. I wasn’t sure if I was contacting the right Cherie as the surname had changed, but the face in her profile sure looked familiar.

Cherie 2011

Once I had established I had the correct Cherie, I sent her a link to her Time Machine. She responded with the comment below –

wow… it is a time machine indeed… well technology improves over time and you can find most people on facebook… like me :) . two things i would like to share… one is that 3 years ago my house burnt down and i lost everything i own… including all my pictures… so these bring a smile to my face… and secondly i am now a professional practicing artist and i remember now sending these thinking what a cool art project it could be!… blast from the past indeed. thanks for sharing these!

Later in a follow-up email she told me more –

I grew up as an airforce brat (my father was in the airforce)…so i moved around very often and also overseas so i had plenty of these photobooth photos of friends from all over … these 3 are – 
The black and white one is me and a friend Kelly Woodhouse when we were at high school… maybe 1997-98. It would have been Ringwood shopping centre Victoria. I was only 13-14 years old then!
No.2 is a pic of me and my best friend from art school Eileen Potter… we would have been at art school then! 1994 i think. Midland TAFE Perth W.A. We were 19-20 years old. 
The solo pic is my passport photo for when i travelled to the U.K. in 1995… for 9 months… as a nanny for some time and then the rest of the time …. party animal :)… i turned 21 that year in London.

Please check out Cherie’s artist page. She is currently being represented by Art and Soul Gallery in Boonah, Queensland. You can also see more of her work at her blog, the address of which I am hoping Cherie will supply in a comment, as I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get back to it! From her blog I remember that she is a mum to five boys, (FIVE!!) and that she is working towards a new exhibition.

I am so thrilled to have found one of my long lost photobooth sitters. As the blog grows and more people read it, who knows how many more might turn up?

PS I have packed up the photos to return to Cherie. Hopefully they will be posted this week-end.

My relationship with Cherie is an unusual one. I don’t know her and I didn’t find her photos online or in a junk shop. In 1997, I wrote to New Idea Magazine about my photobooth collection and plans for an exhibition, which unfortunately never eventuated. I asked if any of their readers would like to contribute pictures. I received two replies, Cherie’s being one of them. She wrote a short note saying “I hope these help you out… please send a photo of the finished project”. I replied to say thank you, as she had included her return address in Walloon, Queensland, but as the project didn’t happen, I never contacted her again.

So after 14 years, these are Cherie’s pictures. It was too much to hope that anyone with her name was still living at the address I have, but there are a few others with the same surname living elsewhere in Queensland. Now the hunt begins to find her and tell her what happened to her cool pics. Wish me luck!

This is Lindsey. As mentioned in my post Della Time Machine Linds is the hospitable hubby of the Holbrook household. For many years, he was pretty much the only man in a house full of kids and manic foreign women. Taking in boarders was Del’s thing and Linds went patiently along for the ride, come what may. There was the occasional male boarder, warmly embraced by him, as a slight antidote to the mayhem of the overwhelming majority of female guests. Like Del, he was generous and welcoming to all. He was and still is a humorous, patient Dad and an affectionate friend.

Looking at these photos I find it fun to see the strong resemblance between him and his son, Rich, who is now about the same age as Linds would be in the first photo.  I am not sure if he knows I have these booth pics of him. They arrived one day in the post from London, as a delightful surprise present from Del along with other family photobooth pics.

Del was my landlady in London.  She is also Rosie’s mum.  Del took in boarders for many years.  I think I was the only one they were never quite able to get rid of. Living with the Holbrooks meant fraternising with diverse people through a succession of boarders of many nationalities and with their friends from all over the world. Del and her spouse, Lindsey, were the epitome of hospitality and generosity, often, with patience and humour, putting up with the foibles and troubles of, mainly female, under 25 year old strangers.

I cannot list how many times Del collected me or dropped me at train stations or airports and offered me other kindnesses and support.  In 1989, I contracted hepatitis from another boarder who had just returned from Africa. I was admitted to a distant hospital, yet with all Del had on her plate as a mother of two young kids, I received regular visits from her. I was at Hither Green in the infectious diseases isolation ward. One day she brought the kids, Ros and Rich, with her. They were only allowed to stand outside the door and wave as I was still in quarantine. It was such a lovely gesture and a massive boost to my morale. Also, due to her thoughtfulness, I did not die of starvation on the ghastly NHS rations and was also saved from 10 days of boredom due to her lending me a tiny portable TV. All that love, along with magical Christmasses, birthdays and many other fun experiences plus their continuing friendship, makes me count all the Holbrooks as a very special part of my extended family.

I first met Rosie in London, when she was 7 years old. I was one of the many boarders from around the world that her mum took in. Although none of the above photos are dated, the second pic is how I remember her looking at that age.  Ros came to visit me in Australia when she was 16, for a one month stay and we catch up via email and whenever I visit London. I think of her as my second little sister and love her dearly. When she was ten or eleven she gave me a new nick name, Kitty. Ros was the first person to call me that, which I found delightful!  She more often calls me Kit-Kat these days.

Now in her early thirties, Ros is newly married and a successful academic. She still has the same cheeky sparkle in her eyes that she did when she was little.

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