Thursday, October 07, 2010

The glum group

I found this picture, framed, on a friend's wall. (Click on these pictures to make them big so you can see what I'm talking about.)

I took a snapshot of it, because what struck me about this large group portrait of some 1953 fez-wearing conventioneers is that there are no smiles. Nowadays when pictures are taken the photographer usually exhorts the subjects to put on a happy face. This is just conjecture, but it could be because of one of these reasons: the dinner was rubber chicken--for the 34th straight year; the speakers bored the hell out of them, like every other year; they were missing the Milton Berle show on television, or the open bar just closed.

There are two people who have faint traces of a smile.

They are flanking this man who appears to be grimacing. He might be wondering when the Pepto-Bismol will be passed around.

Judging by the ages of the people in this photo I'd say these are the age of my grandparents, born in the 1890s or early 1900s. They had been through two world wars and the great depression. In 1953 Americans worried about things like the Russians dropping bombs: atom, or horrors, hydrogen. Maybe these people just find it hard to smile because they're all wearing dentures--in that era aged Americans died with just a few of their real teeth left in their mouths--or it could be after a long life spent going to conventions they're just all smiled out.


DEMiller said...

That is a photo of a Shriners convention. I found a series of photos from different years and each one they were all scowling. I am pretty sure it is a tradition. I picked that photo out of the lot because it was taken the year I was born.

El Postino said...

What would they do if they got caught smiling, have their fez taken away?