I should have known better. My first clue could have been the pose struck, or at least the framing of the face. While this collection of photos did include some adorable poses, the camera’s angle seemed particularly well-suited to focusing on the facial details in this one shot. I sensed a vague, Shirley-Temple-esque aura about this child.
Then, too, I wondered about the placement of the hands—the fingers seemed self-consciously glued into place. No one of that age would naturally be inclined to bid adieu to that bane of childhood—the fidgets—long enough to hold such a position.
Second thoughts began to nudge me toward reality when I recalled another set of photographs in this collection. There were two labeled “Mary Anderson,” for which a handwritten explanation on the back of the cards stated, “Grandpa Tully’s favorite actress.” I happened to notice that, unlike the other family pictures, Mary Anderson’s likenesses also bore her name in a typewritten band across the bottom of each photo.
There was no handwritten note on the reverse of this charming photo, but taking a second look, I did happen to see that the subject in reverie also had a label across the bottom of the portrait: “Elsie Leslie.”
On that second thought, after a day of pondering, I had to Google this one. Sure enough, this Mary Anderson, though a common-enough name to garner several citations, did indeed earn enough notoriety to be recognized with a short Wikipedia entry.
If that was so, I thought, better check and see if anything surfaces with the entry of “Elsie Leslie.” And it did.
So, sadly, I bid fond farewell to any notion that my family is related to the bearer of such an angelic gaze—yet can return to the beauty that is instilled in the everyday lives of my own mysterious forebears.