Laughter by
(87 Stories)

Prompted By Those We Miss

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The Unger family, circa 1951.


Michigan seems like a dream to me now. —Simon & Garfunkel, "America"

In the photo I am plopped in a stroller and I am laughing, even giggling, probably because my daddy is kneeling on my left, tickling my shoulder, and he is laughing too. It is the fifties and I am wearing the baby Penn sweatshirt I got from my uncle, who would have been in college then. I am exuberant like a one-year-old taking his first stroller ride, and my chubby fingers are squeezed around my mommy’s hand as she kneels on my right, and I trust her, and so I can giggle. She also is laughing, and buoyant, because her son is giggling and her husband delighted, the man who told her the night they met that he would marry her, and she wasn’t too sure about that, but she waited while he served in the Pacific, and now they are married and laughing and they have this marvelous family. My uncle, visiting from Philly, is snapping the picture, and for all I know he is laughing too, but he holds the camera steady.  Our laughter will last forever, preserved in living black and white more than sixty years later, and what could possibly go wrong?

Profile photo of John Zussman John Zussman
John Unger Zussman is a creative and corporate storyteller and a co-founder of Retrospect.

Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    “what could possibly go wrong?” is asked to the prompt for who or what we miss…so we are lead to believe that something will, indeed, go wrong. You paint such a happy picture here, yet leave us suspended….waiting.

  2. Suzy says:

    I agree with Betsy, this is tantalizing and ominous. Your picture is labeled The Unger family, and you are Unger Zussman, so I have a feeling that things did go very wrong.

  3. Great conversation, retrospectors! I loved the flow of this short poignant piece. Imagine how it would sound if read aloud. I think yoiur narrative voice borrows a bit from the beat poets, John, although of course, that’s a total projection!

  4. rosie says:

    I’ve nothing special to say except that this is a fine story written crisply and without wasted words. I think those before me were all accurate as well.

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