Posing for the Camera by
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Prompted By Photo Booths

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STEPHANIE & ME,   circa 1965

Before we all took selfies on our cell phones,  and before  “BFF”  and “besties”  were entries in the Urban Dictionary,  Stephanie and I were best friends posing for pictures in a neighborhood photo booth.   We were practically inseparable then and I’ve written before about our long friendship.  (See Postcards from a Secret Admirer)

We met in junior high and although we went on to different high schools and colleges we remained fast friends.  Then we both stayed in New York for graduate school,  and thus on the night of November 9, 1965 when the  lights went out in New York,  we were together at Georg Jensen,  the upscale Madison Avenue silversmith and jewelers.

I don’t remember why we were there —  maybe buying a wedding gift for a friend,  or window-shopping,  or maybe we just ducked in to get out of the winter chill.  But there we were in Jensen’s when suddenly the store was plunged into darkness.

I don’t think Stephanie and I worried about terrorism  –  it was in those innocent pre-9/11 days – and we were soon assured the blackout was an electrical failure.   In fact in the following days we all learned to refer to the “grid’.

And rather calmly as I remember we and the other shoppers held hands as we made our way out of the darkened store onto the street.   And then we had to decide what to do.

Stephanie was living in the Bronx then,  and I on the upper westside,  and with no buses or subways running neither of us could get home.   We decided to surprise my great-aunt Miriam in her midtown apartment,  we walked the several blocks to her building,  and much to Miriam’s delight we spent the night.   (See Aunt Miriam, Diva)

Looking back I believe Stephanie and I saw the blackout as an adventure,  and we didn’t know what dire national disasters – assassinations,  race riots,  bloody protests,  and foreign and domestic terrorism –  were yet to come.

And I didn’t know that tragically I’d lose Stephanie to cancer four decades later.

We were young and careful then,  just two good friends who loved posing for the camera in a Bronx photo booth!

Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!
www.WorldThruBrownEyes.com

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Characterizations: , moving, well written

Comments

  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    How lovely that you have that photo to remember her and spent the blackout together – funny that you were in Georg Jensen at the time. But great that your Aunt Miriam could offer hospitality from the darkness. Not a bad way to while away the time.

  2. John Shutkin says:

    What a terrific story of a lovely friendship, and a real “lemons into lemonade” adventure, Dana. So glad that you could capture it with a photo booth shot and share it with us.
    As I’ve written about, I spent the afternoon of the Blackout taking my driving test — even with all the stoplights out. Not quite as much fun as your day with Stephanie.

  3. Suzy says:

    Love this photo booth photo of you and Stephanie. I do remember that blackout story that you’ve told before, so it’s good to see the protagonists.

  4. Khati Hendry says:

    That picture was a great image of a warm friendship. You led us through your young adventures, when the world seemed new and less threatening even in a blackout, and then to the sudden and sad news that your friend died so young. Your did a lovely job reviving the memories, and so good to still have that beautiful photograph.

  5. Oh, how I love seeing these old, imperfect photos that capture the fun and energy of bygone days. I’m so glad you have this photo of your cherished friend, Dee…thank you for sharing it, and the story of an unforgettable event.

  6. One very warm and memorable and well-described “day in the life.” What a gift to your aunt to show up there at her door! Now that I have nephews, nieces, and grandkids, I can appreciate what it would mean for one of them to choose me as the haven of respite during a challenging time–and even think I was cool enough to expose to a peer!

    • Thanx Dale, indeed my aunt was delighted when we showed up.

      It was such a strange night in the city, with no lights working drivers were getting out of their cars to direct traffic, and strangers were helping each other. New York has such a bad rep, the truth is we’re not at all unfriendly!

  7. Laurie Levy says:

    Love your photo booth picture, Dana. You are so lucky you still have it to remember that special friendship. And yes, 1965 was a more innocent time, although the times were already changing, as Dylan warned us.

  8. Dave Ventre says:

    A lovely story. Having just spent an evening with one of my dearest friends and his lovely wife, I am currently a sucker for any tale of life-long friendship!

    I have no recollection of The Great Blackout; it didn’t cross the harbor over to Bayonne.

  9. The Great Northeast Blackout, November 9, 1965, a prompt unto itself. I recall rooting for the blackout to continue.
    One of the blessings of this Retrospect exercise is the chance to focus on and revive in our minds old friendships, such as yours with your friend Stephanie.

  10. What a great pic of two pals! And on such a night. So many amazing things happened that night and everybody remembers where they were (I was in Cambridge). I love that you ended up with your glamorous aunt. What a great ending to a weird and wonderful day.

  11. How precious is that picture! Your story not only captures your friendship in the blackout, the adventure of it, the drama. And how much more complex and our city lives are now. But also the sweetness of that time. It makes me yearn for a pic with my high school best friend, who passed only three years later. How important are the flashes of the camera.

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