Dottie at an event, 1969

What it is:

Snapshot measuring 5 x 3.5 inches.

What I know about it:

Dated 1969 in pen on the back.  No other identification, but the woman in the middle is Dorothy Baum, which I know because this is one of a bunch of photos purchased from her estate.


I decided it was time for this blog’s first color photo!  Plus, I was in the mood to revisit Dorothy Baum.  Since most of the color photos in my collection are from her estate, that worked out nicely, so I headed to those albums.  This one was actually among some loose ones in a Ziploc freezer bag, not in an album, but that bag contains some gems.  I keep telling myself this photo isn’t very good, and yet every time I see it I pause to look closer and enjoy it.  I figured that must mean something, so I decided to trust my instincts, and hopefully others will enjoy it, too.  I love the chaotic swirl of activity, the people all decked out in their Elks regalia for some event, sousaphones in the back suggesting a marching band, different people focused on different things, with different expressions on their faces.  And in the middle of it all is our Dottie, dressed in some cheerful finery, looking us straight in the eye with an expression that says she’s proud to be there.

8 comments on “Dottie at an event, 1969”

  1. I love the color! It has almost a two-strip Technicolor softness to it, yet it doesn’t look faded.

    • I agree! It looks like a photo that somebody ran through one of those smart phone apps to make it look old-timey, but it’s the real deal.

  2. “I keep telling myself this photo isn’t very good, ” Maybe it isn’t in some terms (art, technical, composition) but the story it tells sure is. (very good, that is). I wonder if someone who reads the Indian script would be able to tell what is written on the gentleman’s fez?

    • Thanks, I’m glad you understand what I’m trying to say here. A few years ago I went to a museum exhibit of the photos of Robert Frank, and I was struck by how many of them seem like they might normally be viewed as discards, off center, out of focus, subject obscured, etc. And yet I found them breathtaking, so powerful and evocative. It really opened my eyes to what constitutes a “good” photo. I feel this one here is so alive, so energetic, and, as you say, packs so much story into it’s simple frame. It is composed in such a way that my eyes always go immediately to the center of attention, which is Dottie, and yet there is still so much other visual interest. I keep returning to it, and always find some new dynamic within it. Of course, I recognize that different people respond viscerally in different ways to different things, and unless you can point to classical, formal composition that everyone can agree on, then not everyone will be as excited by it. But that’s the risk I take in allowing my personal responses to influence this blog, I guess. By the way, the fez would be in English, but in funky script. I can almost read it, but not quite at the angle it is. It would likely have his lodge name, possibly the lodge number, possibly the location, and it might have a title if he has one. (You can do a Google image search on something like “Elks fez” to see examples.) Unfortunately for our purposes, Elks seemed to travel extensively to large events like this, so the location indicated by his fez won’t necessarily be the location of the event.

      • I missed the bit about Elks in your description. Does that mean this is a Masonic event? Are Elks Masons? I immediately thought this was in India and that the ladies on the chairs were sitting on a float for a religious ceremony! Got it wrong again but boy had I made up a good story!

      • I love your story, too! As far as I know, the Elks are a fraternal organization, but they aren’t Masons. I created a new category called “Baum” for this photo. Click on it and you can see other photos of this couple. He was involved in the Elks (specifically the separate black version that existed at the time), and she was involved in the Daughters of Isis. This would be an Elks event, or one at which Elks were participating. This couple was primarily centered in New England, but a handful of pictures are from a ceremony in North Carolina. In any case, this photo is most likely from somewhere in the eastern United States, not India. Interesting though, how the colors and pageantry could fool you. I see what you mean.

  3. Although I got it completely wrong, it is fun to drag something out of it context and run wild with it!

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