This photo comes from my father’s side of the family. In the middle is my paternal grandmother, Helen; on the left is her sister, my great aunt Norah; the woman on the right is a mystery. Helen and Norah lived in Utah at the time, but they were born on a homestead not too far from Mount Rushmore. This must have been taken on a summer visit back to their home state of South Dakota.
Each of the three women expresses a different style. Norah wears a bright green jacket that looks to be from the forties over a dark shirtwaist dress. Her salt-and-pepper hair is drawn back into a conservative bun (I remember it no other way). Although it is hard to see, I think she has on an American Indian necklace—Indian jewelry was part of her look. In the center, my grandmother also wears a shirtwaist dress, dressed up with a cardigan and pearls. She obviously favors pale colors and pastels. Does her gray hair perhaps have a blue tint?
I am most fascinated by the mystery woman on the right. She looks to be an arty type, and it is difficult for me to imagine my very conservative great aunt and grandmother knowing such a person. She wears a wide belt with a distinctive buckle and a boldly printed dress. For a topper she has chosen a filmy shawl, rather than a cardigan or a jacket. And come to think of it, my great aunt’s red sandals also show a wild streak. Maybe I didn’t know my relatives as well as I thought.