by Barry Basden
Cleaning out my father’s things I found an old black and white photo, one I’d never seen before. Hidden away all these years.
The photo was taken in some kind of hall, a gentlemen’s club perhaps. Joyless carpet, somber wainscoting, a small mirror propped on its rail. Patterned wallpaper and two nondescript paintings flanking a pendulum clock. The time was 11:45.
Eight young men grouped together, one standing behind the others. The rest sat on wooden stools or straight back chairs, casually touching so you could tell they were friends. Dark suits. White ties. Stark white gloves. They wore fedoras mostly, though there was one wide brim and a derby.
And blackface. They all had on blackface. The whites of their eyes stood out.
I picked out my father straight away. He sat in front, right in the middle of the group, the only man without gloves. Instead of a hat, he wore a Gatsby newsboy cap. His blackface shone. His pale hands were in his lap, one holding the fingertips of the other. The man on his right was turned slightly toward him, a gloved hand on my father’s shoulder, the other on his forearm.
My father. His crossed ankles and scuffed shoes, the whites of his solemn eyes. He gazed up and to his left, away from the camera. As if he didn’t know what he was doing there.
I like to think that anyway.
Richard Edwards has a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism from Bowling Green State University and an M.S. in Education from the University of Akron. Managing editor of Drunk Duck, poetry editor for Prairie Margins, reporter for Miscellany, Akron Journal, Lorain Journal, and The BG News. He has also worked as a professional writer and editor in the medical publishing industry for several years. For the last 15 years Richard has also taught literature and writing at the secondary and post-secondary levels. He works much of the time with at-risk students.