Tag Archive for Jean Preller

Four Old Family Photos

Busy day yesterday, as I drove down to CitiField (300 miles round trip) with Gavin and Nick to catch the Mets. My attendance record stands now at 0-3, and each game fairly abysmal. This is the price I pay, I tell myself, for being in attendance for Game 5 of the 1969 World Series, when the Amazin’s won it all and later went on The Ed Sullivan Show to sing, “The Impossible Dream.” Oh well, my boys were happy. It was a sweltering day, the sun beating down on our heads, and I spent more than $40 on water at the park.


Anyway, I wanted to post two photos yesterday for the holiday . . .

My father served in the Air Force. This photo was taken during his basic training in Tennessee, 1944. He wrote on the back of the photo, presumably sent to his parents in Queens, NY: “Here I am all dressed up. My hat is on cockeyed. Don’t I look independent?”

My brother Bill, the second oldest in the family, served in Vietnam. I figure this shot for somewhere in 1967-68. I remember when he was over the there, and the body counts on the nightly news, a little boy wondering, hoping. When he came home, I ran and jumped into his arms.

When you warm up the old scanner, it’s hard to stop. This is from my sister Barbara’s 8th-grade graduation from St. Frances de Chantel in Wantagh, NY. Back in in June, 1965, when the number one songs for the month were: “Help Me, Rhonda,” The Beach Boys; “Back in My Arms Again,” The Supremes; “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” The Four Tops; and “Mr. Tambourine Man,” The Byrds.

Music was really, really great when I was a kid. And it was about to get even better. (I think 1967 was the best year for music in the 20th century, since you asked.)

I used to be two years old. Go figure. This is from April, 1963, and I’m next to my sister Jean, age 5, going on 6. She was something with those straight bangs. On school visits, I’ll sometimes joke that there are no photos of me, because nobody bothers taking pictures of Kid #7. There’s truth in that, of course, but I’ve found some scattered old photos, too. Usually I’m standing next to somebody else, or a brother’s new car. These photos have become my small treasures.

Photo Me: Age 13

Today is my sister Jean’s birthday. Fifty-four years on this earth. So I dug out this old photo from a family trip, D.C. I think, perhaps Virginia. I seem to recall us heading down there to visit my brother John. Of the seven children, Jean was #6 and I was #7, so toward the end, as the elders fled, it was us.

I’d bet that I’m 13 in this shot, making this 1974, guessing.

Don’t you love my retro kicks?

If you are like me, you can’t get enough of shots from this period, Nixon to Ford to Carter.

The glorious ’70s. The story of innocence lost.

Our Scarecrow Tradition: Photograph, 1973

Some of you among my Nation of Readers may recall this post from October 30th, and the wonderful snaps contained therein, about the time-honored Preller tradition of building a Halloween scarecrow.

Here’s a handy visual reminder of said scarecrow, circa 2008:

Well. Recently my sister’s high school friend, Bruce Donnola (who, amazingly, went on to become !Bruce Donnola!), sent me this classic photo from 1973 — which varifies that I wasn’t lying about the whole scarecrow thing. And if I ever get it scanned, I have another b/w one from what has to be from the ’50s — same scarecrow across six decades. Prellers. Don’t. Change.

A few comments about the photo:

1) That’s my sister Jean, or two-thirds of her, on the left; Bruce in the middle, with his cool long hair; and the lovely and talented Sharon Kosakoff, right.

2) Bruce claims that my mother took this shot. And after careful study, I can only say: looks about right. Pointing was never Mom’s bread-and-butter. In fact, come to think of it, bread-and-butter was Mom’s bread-and-butter. And a can of Campbell’s creamy mushroom soup poured over pan-fried boneless chicken breasts.

3) Behind them, look!, that’s my old house where I used to live! 1720 Adelphi Road, Wantagh, NY. I had the same phone number my entire childhood: 718-785-7379. There’s something really nice about that.

4) Nixon was President at the time of this photo. I remember him well. Believe it or not, Nixon’s dog, Checkers, immortalized in the legendary “Checkers Speech” of 1952, is buried in my hometown, right across from the Wantagh High School. We used to hang out there sometimes, cutting classes, just for the delicious teenage irony of it.

5) I place a key dramatic scene at this exact gravesite in my upcoming novel, Bystander (Fall, 2009). Just for the nostalgic irony of it. True story.

Have a great weekend.