The Photograph—Updated, with an Additional Photo
I did notice, in the summer of 1961, that Scott’s dad was gone for a long time -- but it would be another decade before I realized that he had gone to Moscow to put on the first American photography exhibition in the Soviet Union -- a historic event in the slow thawing of the Cold War in which my own father was a soldier.
The blizzard of 1962, combined with my father’s first heart attack, proved to be a turning point. My father retired from the Air Force and took a job with NASA in California. Perhaps it was because we sensed that everything was coming to end, but that spring still remains in my mind -- and I know in Scott’s too -- as the most idyllic moment of our childhood. And it was on one of those days that spring, on a trip to a farm in Chantilly, VA, that Frank Christopher took the photograph. Here it is; click to enlarge:
At first glance, “On the Farm,” as it was entitled in exhibitions, appears to be a casual photo. But it is nothing of the sort. The composition is far too complex; so I have no doubt that Frank, in his genius, placed us on that fence -- and then just waited for us to get lost in conversation. That’s my red shirt -- I wear it in my 4th grade school portrait -- but as Scott has noted, he was told to wear this specific sweatshirt in order to balance the color.