August 13, 2021

LOOKING FOR CLUES IN CHILDHOOD PHOTOGRAPHS

It’s interesting how you can recognize people from their childhood photographs.  Sometimes it’s the eyes, or a smile, or the tilt of a head that gives you a clue.  Or it could be that you recognize the parents or siblings with the little one.  Sometimes I am stumped with some baby photos of twins Sam and Eli—they seemed to look much more alike then!

I’ve always liked this old photo from Mother’s collection—and remember her saying it was her cousin Howard Bales.  I really see no clues.  Of course I only knew him as an adult—and he was always talking and laughing.  How could this serious little fellow possibly be Howard?  But I believe it to be so!

I’ve always imagined that his coat was navy blue with brass buttons—but the photo is black and white. With the hooded coat, it’s almost hard to tell that he’s a little boy—except for the scuffed shoes. As the youngest child of Julia Ensminger Bales and her husband Steve, he was also their only son.  And he was always the apple of Aunt Julia’s eye!  

Howard was well known in Athens—first during the years he worked at Riddle’s Drug Store on the courthouse square.  As a soda jerk, he surely scooped up lots of the local Mayfield ice cream in cones, sundaes and milkshakes.  His outgoing personality caught the attention of the Mayfields as they began expanding their territory.  Soon he was their official spokesperson, conducting tours of the plant and traveling around the region to convince grocers to carry Mayfield products.

He and my mother shared a January 3rd birthday, although he was several years younger.  In later years, his sister Sarah Lee often planned a joint birthday meal for them with a group of cousins. I can still hear his chuckle as he talked!  More than most people, he seemed to spread joy wherever he went.  But even he apparently couldn’t be too cheerful in this heavy coat!

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