My latest job in the archives is to go through photos that were once used in yearbooks (you can tell because they have a special stamp on them) and try to figure out who is in the pictures. Some are more challenging than others. Some of the pictures have captions in the yearbook that give you clues as to who you’re staring at.
The 1979 yearbook as a page dedicated to Halloween on which the captions are a bit silly, going along with the costume: Count Leonard was a guy dressed up with a cloak and fangs. Sister Samantha was wearing a nice pillowcase on her head (imagine that!…) A few of these gave me clues as to who was actually in the picture and I referenced their headshots later in the book, as well as cross-referenced their year of graduation in the alumni directory.
My favorite, though–the one that made me laugh out loud–was a picture of a guy dressed up as a conehead. I turned it over to discover that someone had already copied the text from the yearbook to the back of the photo. “Beldar Jones,” it read.
Part of me wanted to leave it.
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I work in the archives. It is about time I tell you that. It isn’t a secret or anything–although, sometimes archival work feels like secret stuff–but I just hadn’t had the opportunity to mention it.
I get there on time and sit down to check my email. The room is empty but the lights are on. Sister must be somewhere close. I’m in the middle of reading the latest Design Within Reach Newsletter when I hear, “It’s BAGEL DAY!” My supervisor, the fiesty Sister J. calls from the other side of the room. “Come on! What are you waiting for?”
She escorts me down the hall to the campus ministry office where people are milling around drinking coffee and eating Panera’s finest. She tells me that she has already endulged, but I should come back to work when I’m done. Being that I am always up for free food I did not object.
The coffee gave me an overwhelming buzz that kept me giggling for the rest of the morning, longing to take photography classes again, study the history of habits, and revamp the archives starting with the box I was making labels for.
At the end of the day Sister and I talked about her former habit. She admitted that she missed it, despite its impracticality. “I can’t even imagine what those students thought when they came back from Christmas break in 1968 and we were all in normal clothes and most of us had different names. Those poor souls. They probably didn’t know what to do with themselves.” She laughed and leaned back like she always does.
She has some good stories. And we’re starting to understand each other’s humor. I like that.
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