Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I Post Links: What to do with the Unsmiling Woman?

Hi, Internet.

So, my old internet-friend-and-sometimes-IRL-friend Bil was browsing a thrift store in Washington, D.C. and made an outstanding discovery. A huge collection of over 150 photos of a mysterious, blonde woman.
She was fashionably dressed and the casual snapshots of her spoke to a natural grace and beauty that immediately captivated me. I bought a photo of her on vacation and another one of her and someone I assumed was her husband sitting under a Christmas tree. She wasn't smiling in either picture and the clerk mentioned that she was in several photos; the staff had nicknamed her "The Unsmiling Woman.
The lady had totally killer fashion sense. I won't post any of the photos without Bil's consent, but you can click through to see them here. The photos are a chronicle of her and her husband's life together, from the 1950's to their deaths in the 1990's. Their entire estate, including these photos, was sold or donated.
She had a fascinating life that has really resonated with me. I put the photos in order from 1950 to 1996; when confronted with the entirety of her recorded history, watching her age in the space of time it takes to flip through them all is surprisingly emotional. Knowing that her husband was put in a nursing home for Alzheimer's and watching him deteriorate in the photos, it's heartbreaking when he disappears. He was the main photographer in the family. Once he leaves, there's only one more photo of Barbara. Her grief is beautifully understated and would reduce the most hardhearted person to tears.
So now Bil is on a labor of love for this lady he never got to meet. He's done some research, tried to find more about their identities, considered writing a biography of her life. He's tried to find people who knew her that may want the photos. He thought about frivolous artistic pursuits with the photos, but decided this would be disrespectful.

Guys, just looking at the goofy photo of her and her husband, in their home shortly after their wedding. It's really giving me the feelings. I, too, feel like she deserves some kind of tribute.

Please chime in to the comments, tweet him at @bilerico, or discuss below and I can pass your comments on. Thank you.

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