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01/06/2011

The Uniform

Sir, yes sir! Give a storytelling salute and put Denzel Washington to shame with this week’s featured story from the First Person Museum Online Gallery. This week we’re featuring a story about a photo of a man in uniform submitted by Margaret from Philadelphia.

Margaret is no stranger to First Person Arts. We first met Margaret this past spring at a storytelling event we presented in partnership with Art Sanctuary. It was there that Margaret first shared her story about her photo of her father in military uniform with us. This past fall, Margaret’s story was showcased in the pilot exhibition of the First Person Museum at the Painted Bride Art Center. Now her story continues to be on display in the First Person Museum through our Online Gallery.

Like Margaret, you can be featured in a Museum! Do you have a story about an object that you hold dear? Upload your story about an object today to firstpersonmuseum.org along with media including photos of yourself, your object and video. Choose from themes like “Generation to Generation” and object types like “Always By My Side.” Who knows? Next week’s story could be yours!

The Uniform
Margaret, Philadelphia, PA
Theme: Generation to Generation
Object Type: Always By My Side

He looked downright handsome. His skin dark chocolate, face clean shaven eyes that can see straight through you. He was not quite six feet tall, but he had a swagger that would put Denzel Washington to shame. That was my dad. He was stern, strong in character and could strike up a conversation with the Head of State if he wanted to. He was my hero. I never saw any man wear a uniform with such class and style. As I glance around his bedroom, I spot my favorite picture. It’s in a five by seven inch tarnish silver frame. It’s black and white. My dad is in his khaki army uniform with my mom. It was taken on my parent’s wedding day November 7, 1962 in Vernon Louisiana. A friend of my dad had taken the picture. This fact I had to rely on my mom’s memory of the date, place, month and year. I studied this particular picture a million times. Its significance would play a major part in my life many years later. He has an array of photographs of him in his army and policeman uniform. I’m compelled by this one. I concentrate on his demeanor. I search his eyes looking for apart of me. It’s not immediate why I’m intrigue by his gesture, pose or facial expression. I don’t see any part of me. It won’t become clear for many years later. He would past before this becomes apparent. I remember a conversation dad I had. We were talking about my future. We shared a powerful connection that evening. I wanted to move many miles away from my native home in Philadelphia. I saw a look on his face that did not resemble the uniform photograph. I was stunned, happy for a moment, followed by a deep sadness. I never shared our talk with anyone else. His feelings and raw emotion convinced me to stay. My mind wonders back and forth as I glance at the uniform. It’s color bland like my thoughts. I observe the picture with fresh eyes this day. My father looked content. His future fulfilled. I feel his energy. I touch the frame like so many times before. I’m intrigued by his creased trousers, shiny black shoes, and his sage army cap. I guess the color because the pictures are black and white. I think to myself how long had it took him to get ready for that photograph. Who did he talk to while he dressed, shaved and put on his uniform? His pose looked like a figure of authority. I pick up the photograph. I wipe the dust from the tarnish silver frame. I manage to see only little specks of silver. At one time it was a delicate weave pattern all around its frame. I run to find a rag to wipe down the frame to try to preserve it. When I’m done I notice how the dust had settled on the other frames. Carefully, I pick up each frame one by one. Gingerly, I clean them all. By the time I’m finished, I’m in the mist of tears from the photographs of my father in his uniforms. My mind wonders for a moment about the many pictures my father had taken over the years with his uniform and dress suits. He like being in charge and these suits gave him that edge. I know he feels amorous looking down on me from heaven as I cherish his photographs. I envision his smile his appreciation for honoring him in this way. I look at one of his later pictures he took wearing his policeman uniform. It’s the one I keep in my armoire. This particular one is in color. He’s older and more relaxed. His face isn’t clean shaven, his hair short and he has a sparkle in his eyes. I finally see me. We have the same smooth skin and wicked grin when we photograph. Most of his pictures, he’s taken over the years he grins with no open smile or teeth. I take a quick spin around his room. I see me in him. Tears roll down my face. I’m elated because I’ve found a precious piece of me. I sit on his bed savoring this revelation. I think back to my ex husbands both were in the military. Was this a consequence or fate? I fall back on the bed with my favorite picture. I whisper you’ll always be a gentleman before an officer to me.

Read Margaret’s official entry.

Upcoming Events
  • StorySlam: On the Edge at L’Etage (Member Tix onsale Aug. 15)
  • Date: September 18, 2018
  • Time: 8 PM
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