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November 20, 2012

TT: Family album (I)

My brother, who became the unofficial Teachout family archivist by virtue of the fact that he lived so close to (and is now moving into) the house where we grew up, just sent me an e-mail containing snapshots of my mother and father. Some of them I remember vividly, while others were unfamiliar to me. All of them moved me, some to tears.

In recent weeks I've been thinking about my parents with increasing frequency, no doubt because the success of Satchmo at the Waldorf makes me wish that they'd lived to see it--though I wouldn't have wanted to try to explain to my mother why I'd put such spectacularly obscene language in the mouth of her beloved Louis Armstrong! Be that as it may, it's nice to be able to get a look at them again, and I thought it might possibly amuse you to see two of my favorite photos:

FAMILY%201%20224.jpg• I took this one shortly after my parents came to New York for their first and only joint visit in 1983 or 1984. It documents my mother's first subway ride. If memory serves, we were headed down to Rockefeller Center. Even at its best, the New York subway system can be a formidable obstacle course for anyone who's spent the whole of his life in a series of small Midwestern towns, and I have crystal-clear memories of the morning that I escorted my mother down the steps and into the maelstrom.

Though she was palpably nervous, she was also a plucky woman who rarely let anything faze her, and this tight-lipped portrait of a middle-aged woman determined not to display her anxiety has never failed to put a smile on my own face.

FAMILY%201%20097.jpgMy father, like so many men of his generation, loved to go "camping," by which he meant staying somewhere other than home in something other than a motel room. First he bought a tent, then a trailer, then a mobile home on Kentucky Lake, then--dream of dreams--a full-fledged motor home, and each summer he did his level best to get out of town as often as possible.

Needless to say, it was always taken for granted that my mother would come along, since he was incapable of functioning without her. (It would have been unimaginably awful had she predeceased him.) Alas, she hated the camping trips that made him so happy, but she was a loyal and devoted spouse, and on occasion she somehow contrived to enjoy herself. This picture was taken on one of those happy occasions.

Oh, how I miss them both.

Posted November 20, 2012 12:49 PM

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