In my novel, I describe Nels, one of the main characters as a man who wore a checked jacket, upturned jeans and cowboy boots. These were images that my mother had described for me over the years.
The washtub near the car most likely had sudsy water in it for my dad to wash his car. He loved his Dodge, kept a shine on it. Perhaps it was a last warm day, time to get one more washing in before the weather turned bad.
What gripped me most about the picture though is the boots he wears. Even after his move to the Midwest, with my mother and brother, he wore cowboy boots. This image is a reflection of some connection between myself and my dad. To never know him but to love cowboy boots and Pendleton wool fulfills something within me. It's history of a sort that intertwines with other people's memories to bring him to life.
I believe my mother is pregnant in this photo. But I am more curious about what she has in her hands or what is behind her. Are those linens drying on a rack? She told me that even in the dead of winter she could hang clothes outside in Utah because the air was so dry.
She worked for months after discovering that she was pregnant with Paul, who is in the first picture. As I researched social norms and women working, I found that it was frowned upon for a woman to be as far along as my mother appears to be in this photo, and still be working.
My mother didn't pay close attention to what she was supposed to do. She stayed on at the phone company because she loved working. In the 1950s when Lucille Ball wasn't allowed to say pregnant on television, my mom showed up to work. It fulfilled her.