The picture above, of my parents at their Astoria apartment not long after getting married, is an odd one. I can’t tell if the photographer was attempting an artsy, perhaps noir, look, or if it’s just out of focus. Probably the latter.
It's a radically different era for any number of reasons. My dad (almost 25), on this September evening, is home from work, yet still has his jacket and tie on (and pocket square) instead of slipping into more casual duds. (Not exactly a clothes-horse, my dad, but still you’d think he’d notice that his socks aren’t knee-length.) I can’t make out what magazine he’s reading, but as one who avidly kept up on current events, my money’s on Time, a more conservative title in those days, which was a fit for his politics. It definitely wasn’t The New Yorker or a gossip title. I’m sure the table is second-hand, maybe the lamp, too, and that their Queens apartment is modest, if not quite like Ralph and Alice’s on The Honeymooners. The candy dish on the table is remarkable, to me, for it survived many decades and was a fixture in our house at 123 LaRue Dr. in Huntington, New York. I still remember wrapped mints that none of us ever touched.
My mom (24), who’d yet to have the first of their five children, and probably home from work in NYC as well, cuts, I think, a stylish figure, with her dress—dig those ruffled sleeves!—hiked up a bit, and that shiny watch that was also on her wrist in a 1962 photo that was featured a couple of weeks ago [https://www.splicetoday.com/pop-culture/take-a-guess-what-year-is-it-210]. On the other hand, perhaps it was a Friday night and they were still gussied up, planning to go dancing with my Uncle Joe and Aunt Winnie, or take in a film at a nearby, and undoubtedly grand, movie palace. My father supplemented his income during college by playing saxophone with local bands in New Hampshire, but it’s unlikely they’d be at the Cotton Club in a few hours. I just have no idea, and it’s best to let the imagination wander about this captured moment in America when televisions weren’t in many homes, cars were big, clunky but often very handsome, citizens talked about politics without undue rancor, and the dozen or so NYC newspapers published several editions every day.
Take a look at these clues and figure out what year it is: The Parker 51 fountain pen is first sold; The National Gallery of Art opens; The Great Gildersleeve debuts on NBC Radio; the Yankees (yawn!) defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers for the franchise’s ninth World Series championship; Faye Dunaway is born and Jelly Roll Morton dies; The Devil and Miss Jones is released; Rosalind Russell stars in The Feminine Touch; and Gourmet magazine begins publishing.
—Follow Russ Smith on Twitter: @MUGGER1955