In what is probably the most unlikely specimen to have been included in Bill Bean’s photograph collection, this candid shot appears to be a day care class taking a break outdoors for snacks.
The wriggling mass of miniature humanity is frozen in time by an unnamed photographer, capturing a beguiling assortment of positions and facial expressions. Nobody, however, looks particularly happy.
Appearing in a blur from off camera, a teacher rushes in, donning a flowered coat over her polka dot (or perhaps striped) dress. Her outfit is tastefully completed by her selection of what I used to call “old lady shoes.”
Her charges are sporting every imaginable unsuitable type of covering in weather cold enough to prompt their supervisor to wear layers: baggy shorts, short-short dresses, pants—remember the term, dungarees?—t shirts, button down shirts. And one little guy whom I couldn’t help but notice, donning overalls meant to last him for several more years of good use.
Since Bill and Ellen Danielson Bean had no children of their own—and since these young ones certainly didn’t include Bill’s brother Sam’s boys—I’ve always thought of that couple as not having much interest in children. Bill faced so many pressing matters at work, and had so many other interests to fill his “free” time. Knowing that, I was surprised to see this photograph among those he had saved all these years. Somehow, it must have meant something to him. But what?
Though the background to this photograph seems so stark, and though the children don’t seem to manifest much joy, for some reason their squirming personalities bring a smile to my face. While there are no names listed to identify, no dates to pinpoint the event, no locations listed to help describe the scene, I just wanted to share this anonymous snapshot of life.