Talking Pictures: Love and Marriage
By Ransom Riggs
Talking Pictures is a spankin'-new column in which, every week or so, I'll post an array of fascinating found snapshots that have writing on them, all arranged around a particular theme. I discovered them either in swap meets or flea markets or in the vast collections of snapshot-obsessed friends -- most of whom had never bothered to turn their photos over to check whether anything interesting was written on the backs.
For me, words are what make old photos come to life. A few scribbled lines can turn a blurry black-and-white snapshot of people who seem a million miles and a million years away into an intensely personal sliver of experience that anyone can relate to. It becomes something not just to look at, but to listen to.
This week it's all about love. (I figure it'll be a nice palate-cleanser before next week -- Halloween -- which will be all about death.) Fair warning: a couple of these are raunchy! But such is love.
Let's begin with flirting, which hasn't changed nearly as much, judging from the photo above, as the clothes people wear to picnics. Below, an example of the lost art of being suggestive without actually saying anything rude.
The long, trailing question-mark says it all, I think:
One finds a lot of mash notes when combing through old photos. This is one of my favorites:
Just remember Angel. I have a tag on you and you're not for sale.
All my love,
To be viewed from a distance. I might eat you up.
Below -- you can imagine how my jaw dropped when I found this one. Hotza! Also, I think she crossed out "lust" and wrote "love" instead. Playing hard to get?
I found this in a huge bin of disorganized snapshots in an antique shop. I was really hoping the nice old lady who ran the shop wouldn't read the back as I paid for it. Luckily, she'd misplaced her bifocals. (I went ahead and blotted out her face ... for obvious reasons, I think.) See what I mean about the lost art of romantic subtlety?
The inevitable outcome:
Were you happy then, baby? I was.
Of course, love -- or the lack of it -- can make you miserable, too.
Love is patient. Love is kind. Love can also be super creepy:
For some lucky couples, though, it all seems fated from an early stage ...
... even if your friends don't agree.
She doesn't look so sure:
You can find two previous installments of Talking Pictures here: Hide This Please and Life During Wartime.