How would you tell the story of your life visually?? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself as this excavation of personal memories as visual imagery continues. Memory is a quirky thing – full of random bits and pieces, some crystal clear and others a bit muddied or vague. All fuel for artistic inspiration.
My Pittsburgh childhood in the 1950’s holds both urban and suburban recollections. One vivid memory is the streetcar or trolley car. We would dress up and take the trolley downtown to shop at the downtown department stores like Joseph Horne’s, where uniformed elevator operators with white gloves would call out each floor and its products – “Fourth Floor,Ladies dresses, Lingerie”, until we reached our desired destination.
My grandparents ran a lunch counter and soda fountain much like the one shown in this early Pittsburgh historical photograph, called the H & H Dairy Bar. The two H’s stood for Herman & Helen Haupt. Men wore hats, suits and white shirts with ties and women wore stockings with a seam up the back, dresses and high heels every day.
As a young girl, when I visited my grandparents, I slept in the front bedroom of their apartment above their store. The wires for the trolley cars ran level with the second story window ledge. As I lay in bed I could see the sparks fly from the wires as the trolleys sped by and hear the clattering of their wheels on the tracks. The trolleys lulled me to sleep.
I’ve been mining this rich vein of recollections from my personal history and contemplating how they might fit into my work.