Post 614: shadow man and the little boy…

Take a look at these photos, taken sometime toward the middle of the 1940s, during WWII.

The place: My maternal grandmother’s front yard. The family lived in the second story apartment there until completing a house on Mississippi in 1951. The little boy is my older brother, wearing as spiffy an ensemble as I’ve ever seen him in! My brother is a Levis and Nebraska Huskers t-shirt kind of guy now, and he wears a baseball cap. My guess is it’s springtime, and my brother is playing with a Christmas wheelbarrow. I need to ask…!

dads shadow and dick2

“Shadow man” is my father, wearing a civilian hat, so I guess this was a Sunday. My Dad was Chief of Police in this town, and most photos of him then show him in uniform. The town had a major air base training people for the glider and parachute aspects of the D Day invasion. My Dad worked very hard then because he had a small staff meant for a smaller town and thousands of soldiers with not much to do after training but come into town. Many married the mothers of my friends growing up. No coincidence!

Anyway, this is a favorite photo of Dad because it shows him relaxed, off duty, and doing what fathers do: taking photos of their little guys at play. And…accidentally getting themselves in the photo, if as a shadow. Or maybe it was on purpose. Dad’s gone — he died on election day 2008 — but he was a very purposeful, methodical man. There is a suggestion of a composed shot here.


Then, there is this second shot in the sequence, a more spontaneous yet more mysterious image. Same setting. Same brother. Same father taking a photo as a shadow man.

There’s a change in angle, though, one brought about by my brother’s burst to go to Dad. Dad takes another shot, capturing something I’d never noticed in this photo before: a third person standing by the locust tree, both shadows on the left, while the photo’s taken.

dads shadow and dick1

It appears to be a male. Or is it? Who might it be, this new “shadow man”? Yet, he appears higher in the photo than he should were he just standing by the tree. Was he actually a child, a child standing on the bird bath by that tree? If a child, did Dad know he was standing on the birdbath? I don’t think that was generally allowed…! We’ll never know.


20 thoughts on “Post 614: shadow man and the little boy…

  1. I’m sure you had a great time writing the story – photos are far more interesting if they don’t answer all our questions so we can talk about them and spend a good time doing it! 🙂

  2. I would guess that the second shadow is your mom. She is not at the base of the tree but a bit forward, so her shadow looks high in the tree. The size of the shadow makes it look like an adult.

    • That’s a possibility, though the person in the shadow is too high to have just stood by that tree. I still think someone was standing on a bird bath that used to be next to the tree. Regardless, at this point, no one can answer the mystery because everyone but my brother is dead. I doubt he remembers much about that day, easily 70 years ago now!

      • But what if she was standing along the shadow of the tree a few feet? Your brother’s shadow reaches almost the height of your fathers, even though he’s far shorter.

        • One of many possibilities, though I still think it is a male shadow. Too bad the only person who might know is seven decades older than in the photo! I doubt he’d recall the day, though I guess it isn’t impossible.

  3. Great photos. It is frustrating when the people are no longer here to answer our questions about the photos. I have a bunch like that with no idea who the people are in them and no one who can tell me.

    • Thanks! Perhaps it is because I am an old guy now and am more aware of my mortality from a practical point of view, but these photos have greater impact now than they did when I could get answers to basic questions they pose. I plan on post more of these mystery images in future, as they pop to the surface. There are some I remember from when I was a kid that I can’t locate now. Then there are those I can locate but don’t know enough about them to know if they are significant or not to my family history. People used to send photos of their children at Christmas to my parents, for example, and these children aren’t people I know.

Leave a Reply. You may comment using your, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ accounts.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.