Tuesday, August 22, 2006

From The Plastic Pumpkins Case Files: The Thrift Store Enigma


Awhile back I'm doing one of my semi-regular day-long thrift store runs, the kind where you hit as many thrift stores as you can in a day's time and scoop up just about anything that catches your eye and who's price tag is agreeable, and the 'photo' above ends up in my basket at one store or the other. I barely remembered grabbing it, but I always go for cool old photos if they're on the cheap and this was less than a dollar so in with the loot it flew. It wasn't 'til I got home and was picking through my bags of crap... sorry 'recycled treasures'... that I noticed something odd about these pictures. The glass in the frame was filthy, but I could still tell that neither of these pictures were an actual photo.

Well, I flipped the frame over and pried out the cardboard backing and discovered the truth. This was a forgery! The photo of the woman had been cut off of a postcard, the faded half-word 'postc' can still be read along the top, while the man's picture seemed to have been cut out of a book! So what I thought was a lovely photo of an attractive elderly couple is nothing but a big con job! Did these two people know each other at all? Had they ever even met? Did they even live in the same time period? I'm not well enough versed in the clothing styles of various historic eras to make any sort of a call on whether or not their costuming is copasetic.

So who would do this and why? The overly-romantic part of my mind pictures a lonely orphan girl, perhaps a newly arrived immigrant on these shores, with no family, no friends, no history. Desperate to create a sense of belonging in this cold, harsh world (even if entirely fictional) she uses one of her hard-earned pennies to purchase a picture postcard of someone (presumably) famous, someone she admires perhaps. Or did that kind woman's face just call out to her from the spinner rack, telling her "Yes child, I will be the home you seek!" Unable to spare a second penny to buy her new-found kin a mate, this normally law-abidding young lass finds her way to the local library where, when the stern matron behind the desk is distracted by children speaking aloud, she tears a page free from some random book and runs for the exit. We can forgive her this one act of desperate vandalism for after all, later in life when she has done quite well for herself she makes a sizeable, and anonymous, donation to this very same library. It's what her made-up Nana would have wanted her to do...

The more rational, and less often used, part of my brain says that this was just cobbled together as a prop for some school play or some such. But then my more rational brain also doesn't believe in Bigfoot or Uri Geller or the basic goodness of mankind. My more rational brain is a party pooper.

So who were this man and woman and why were they paired in this faux tableau? As I've said, I'm presuming at least the woman to be someone well-known if she merits postcard immortality. She seems familar, but only in the same sort of way that any b & w picture of anybody taken before a certain point in time will look familar. People from one time period will all look the same to people from another. The man looks like one of those creepy photos they used to take of dead people, but I'm pretty sure he's alive. If not, kudos to his embalmer!

So another unsolveable case for the PPCF's. I'll file it away in the 'Active, but don't hold your breath' drawer and move on to other things, but I can tell you right now- this is the case that will haunt my dreams forever...

Alternating nights with that dream where I'm prospecting for gold with Mickey Mouse and Goofy.

3 comments:

eviedee said...

This post made me laugh. Mostly because I can relate SO well. I have a picture that I purchased recently at a thrift. I was going on and on about the mysteries of the photo when my logical mother in law pointed out that it probably taken for a play. Sigh.

nemo434 said...

Logical people really need to learn to keep their opinions to themselves and stop spoiling it for the rest of us! : )

tc said...

Oh good lord. I laughed. I cryed at the immigrant story and will leave that as my belief to your pictures.

I was given a huge glass frame for an anniversary at work a couple years back. I left the picture it came with in it from about 7 months, telling some who asked that the person in the picture was my wife and others that it was my sister.

That proved to create some very fun office stories....