Old Mack’s Tales

November 3, 2012

The Camera Girl

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 10:30 pm

The Camera Girl

I cannot remember her name, but I can picture her working.  She’s wearing tan slacks and a smock.  Her hair is still in curlers, but it’s light red and short and curly when she takes the scarf off.  I think she’s older than my cousin, Erlie, but I really don’t know, because “it’s not polite to ask a woman how old she is.”  She’s very pretty, like all of the women Harry Gordon hires to work in his locker club.  Harry and the sailors who did business at the Bay City Locker Club called the girl “Red.”  But I wasn’t supposed to call her “Red.”  Maybe her name was Betty, or Mary, something common and easily forgotten.  But I can remember watching her take pictures.

Betty had a section in the Locker Club all her own, and a Dark Room too.  There were all sorts of funny things the sailors could show their faces through and have their picture taken.  One was a muscle-bound guy flexing next to a Hula Girl and a background that looked like a beach, with painted palm trees and the luxury liner sailing in the painted ocean.  A lot of the sailors who came into Harry’s to use his lockers, or to have their picture taken, had been to Hawaii and even to China.  I didn’t really know where China was, but I knew that if you dug a hole in San Diego deep enough you’d come out in China.

Betty had a lot of cameras, but the one she used when I was there to watch was a camera like you see newspaper photographers use in movies with flash bulbs that pop out after the picture is taken.  She had the camera mounted on a three-legged stand and operated it with a cable while she stood away from it and tried to get the sailor to smile.  They couldn’t keep from smiling when she made silly faces at them.  I was always surprised when the flash bulb went off.

It was a rainy day when Betty took my mom’s picture in Harry’s office.  I remember that because my guardian had driven me into town to have my teeth drilled at “Painless Parker’s” and had said several times that having a cavity drilled didn’t hurt as much on rainy days.  That was a lie.  It really hurt, but maybe it would have been worse on a sunny day.

It was December Twenty-first, my mother’s birthday, in 1942, the day Betty took her picture in Harry’s office; maybe you can see the calander on Harry’s office wall, which still shows March, but it was really December and I was only there to visit my mother because it was her birthday.  I had to use a pencil to do the subtraction, 1914 from 1942, to figure out that Ruth, my mother, was twenty-eight that day.  Betty made several prints of the picture she took that day and she put one of them in a cardboard frame so I could take it back to La Jolla and show it to my friends at school to prove I really had a mother and that she really was as beautiful as any movie star.



  1. A sweet story. Begs many questions.

    Comment by tedstrutz — January 1, 2013 @ 11:57 pm | Reply

  2. I’m happy to see a few followers. Your comments on the tales are welcome. I am a 78 year old former marine who kept his inner child locked in a cage too long; when I let him out he goes crazy.

    Comment by Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" — January 2, 2013 @ 12:53 am | Reply

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