The 1970’s were a great time to be alive. There was so much going on. There was that cool song that everybody loved. There was that guy that used to always say that crazy catchphrase on that show. Oh man, how we’d laugh every time that crazy catchphrase was uttered by that guy on that show. We’d laugh like little kids.
I miss the sweet innocence that I so nonchalantly displayed back then. My sweet, sexy innocence. I wish I could have it back. I’d bottle it up and sell it at Sotheby’s. Or on eBay. Or maybe on Craigslist. It really sounds like more of a Craigslist post, doesn’t it? A jar full of a beautiful boys sweet, sexy innocence? Hmmm. Now that I think about it, maybe that’s more of a face to face transaction. Cash only, you fucking creep.
But I can’t go back in time. I realize that. I’m Bill McMorrow, not Bill McFly.
Luckily though, through the ancient dark magic of photography, I can at least relive it.
The word ‘photography’ is derived from the Latin root word ‘photographer’. It literally translates to English as “I’ve stolen your soul and stuck it on paper, subsequently you will never be allowed into heaven”.
Soul stealing and heaven denying were a booming business in the 1970’s, as evidenced by any suburban shopping mall in America. The North one. I can’t speak for the shopping malls in the South one. Que?
Glamour Shots were all the rage back then. People absolutely loved gussying their children up in their shiniest attire and commemorating the awkwardness forever. My mother was people. She insisted that her children wear only the finest of velour and polyester blends for picture day. She also insisted that we not act like little ungrateful pricks during the soul stealing ceremony.
We always went to the Photo place at Sears & Roebuck in the South Shore Plaza in Braintree. This was before Roebuck went rogue one day and just disappeared. Rumor had it that he killed a man in a drunken argument over the unrequited love of a sweet baby lady. Or mayhaps it were a cocaine transaction run amok? History will never know. But Roebuck disappeared for some reason. Okay, let’s call it a coke deal gone bad.
When I say that we always went to Sears, I mean that’s the only place I remember going. I was a kid. I wasn’t in charge of much back then. If I remember correctly, it went like this.
Mom: “Get in the car. It’s picture day.”
Me: “Okay, but why are Donna and Michael getting in the car?”
Mom: “Because it’s picture day. All three of you are going to be in the picture.”
Me: “Whoa. I didn’t sign up for none of this. I work solo.”
Mom: “Oh Billy, you’re the sweetest most beautifully blue-eyed angel baby of a boy who a mother could hope to push out of her innards. Truth be told, I really only want a picture of you, but if I buy the three kid picture deal, I get a free hip flask and a complimentary carton of Winston’s. And you know how momma loves her Winston’s”
Me: “That’s okay, Mom. I’ll do it for you. In thirty years I can just Photoshop them out of the picture and we’ll laugh about it then. Of course you’ll have already passed away thirty years prior to that, so maybe we should just laugh about it now.”
Mom: “Hahaha. That’s really funny.”
We would make our way to the plaza by way of roads. Mom would drive on one, then turn onto another, eventually ending up on the third floor of the parking garage. She did all of this without GPS. She was like a pioneer.
My mother would lead us into the store and inevitably there would be a line of very uncomfortable children wearing very uncomfortable clothes waiting to have their less than happy memories preserved in perpetuity. The most exciting part of the whole experience was that the photo section was located right next to the escalators. Very few things were more exciting to an inquisitive young lad than a set of moving stairs. Remember, these were the days before you could get porn on a cell phone. Or a cell phone.
We would spend the hours going up and down the escalators. Up. Down. Up. Down. Walk up the down one. Walk down the up on. Run up the up one. Run down the down one. Fall. Cry. Rinse. Repeat.
Of course someone always fell. That was just how it was. Rub some fucking dirt on it and get back in the game, kid.
When it was time for our picture to finally be taken, my mother would yell our names and we would scramble to her from whichever far-flung escalator stair we were inhabiting at the moment. She would make last-minute adjustments to our clothes, slap some spit on any wayward tufts of hair she noticed, and send us in to make magic.
And make magic we did.
If Mom was here today, I’m sure she would smile and laugh and say,
“I remember this day so well, but how in the hell did I miss your sisters hair? Oh well, shit happens. Now be an angel and go fix Momma a highball.”