Janet Hommel Mangas: A quick trip to 1969

My little writing room heater and humidifier are chugging away simultaneously keeping the indoor plants growing green and full of health while it’s just 37 degrees outside on this early April morning.

On my desk, slid onto a 5-inch paperclip mounted vertically on a wood block, is a photo of 20 Hommel cousins. I have no idea when I placed the photo there. At first glance I thought it was an Easter photo from the farm because my younger sister Jerri and cousins Brenda and Angie are holding little white flower basket purses. But maybe it’s really late August because the trees are fully green and many of us kids have on sleeveless tops.

I can only guess the year is around 1969 or 1970 because I’m kneeling on the front row of the photo holding onto my brother David, who looks to be around two or three years of age. He’s wearing a No. 53 green collared jersey and little boy undies. I must be 10 or 11, and I’m holding him in front of me underneath his armpits and he’s holding onto one of my wrists — he’s looking away from the camera like he’s ready to bolt as soon as the photo is taken.

I notice that side-parts were obviously in-style as Aunt Janet, and my older sisters Debbie and Leta, who are all teenagers, are all fashionably side-combed. My 7-year-old sister Jerri is sporting two pig-tails and I have a pixie-cut with bangs. My 8-year-old brother Kevin is in the kneeling front row, but smiling widely sitting on a short four-wheel scooter.

Everyone is smiling in the photo except David, who has obviously spotted something off-camera that he wants to chase.

What is not in the photo, but I can clearly still imagine is our parents, grandparents, aunt and uncles making faces so we’d smile: “Just smile for one photo, then you can go play some more.”

We’d hear the click of the instamatic Kodak box camera and we were back doing the important work of childhood — playing.

Janet Hommel Mangas grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to [email protected].