Pictured to the left is my maternal great-grandmother Margaret Payton celebrating New Year’s Eve in Baltimore in 1977. This Polaroid photo was taken in what I assume to be a photo station at the party as suggested by the green fabric background and lighting. At the time this photo was taken Margaret – also known as Queen – was a 63 year old grandmother of four and great-grandmother to one. I absolutely love this photo of her because it offers some subtle (or maybe not so subtle) suggestions of the vibrant personality of an ancestor I never met!
There are a few things about this photo that I really love.
1. The Tilted Party Hat. The silver hat seems befitting for a woman named Queen and one who knows how to party!
2. Large Fire-engine Red Purse. I imagine she chose to carry a large red purse for practical reasons: red matches Christmas/New Year’s holiday decor and a large purse is necessary if a person needs to carry a lot of things.
3. Not-So-Winter White Dress. The dress fits nicely, providing modesty and sophistication without revealing her age. Still, her choice to wear a floor length white dress in the middle of winter suggests her unconventional style and comfort with her full-figure.
4. Facial Expression. Her eyes are completely closed. There could be a number of reasons why someone would take a photo with their eyes closed (i.e. blinking, unprepared, etc.) but I can’t help but think that maybe she just had a great time…if you know what I mean.
None of my family members seem to know where this photo was taken however my aunt and mother believe that she was celebrating New Year’s Eve at a party hosted by one of the many social clubs she supported. Although Queen never joined any of these organizations, she often attended their events including cabarets, fundraisers, holiday parties, etc. She enjoyed cooking and always had company in her home, so it’s no wonder that she knew about these events through friends and relatives. My mother says “Everybody knew Margaret!”
I’m looking forward to getting to know more about Margaret’s life in 2012!