Thursday, September 21, 2023

From Puppy to Peace Corps

Yes, that's me -- in 1975 or so, when my dad was building his new house after his divorce from my mom. My brother and I would visit him on weekends, and we'd often go to see the progress on the house. I'm holding Puppy, my favorite stuffed animal, a bedraggled dog with its tongue Scotch-taped to its face. My parents, like the Argentinian junta, eventually "disappeared" Puppy because they thought I was getting too old to be carrying around a stuffed dog, and they were probably right. (I was eight or nine.) Anyway, I've always liked this picture.

I came across this photo while looking for something else, which led to me combing through files and files of images. I thought, "Why not make this a blog post?" All photos were taken before 1993, and hopefully I haven't blogged any of them already!

This is me in 1984, when I was a senior in high school, with our two dogs, Herman (L) and Hoover. I've written about them before. That's our house in the background.

In 1989, when I was 22, I took a trip with my mom and brother to Glacier National Park in Montana. The Sydney shirt was sent to me by my Australian penpal, Narelle, when I was in college. Narelle and I wrote to each other for several years. She introduced me to the band Dead or Alive and was mildly offended when we exchanged cassette tapes and I told her she sounded British. "I don't think I sound like a Pom at all!" she said. I just never expected Australians to have accents. (Apparently I'd forgotten "Crocodile Dundee.")

This is me in about 1990, at a burned-out convenience store somewhere in Central Florida. You can't quite tell but I'm wearing a shirt celebrating banned books. It says "CENSORED" diagonally across a list of titles that had historically been controversial, like "The Catcher in the Rye" and "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich." I wish I still had that shirt!

In 1990 I went to San Francisco with my friend Arthur. That bag contained a loaf of sourdough that we ate for dinner -- and as I recall we ate ONLY the sourdough, and drank a bottle of red wine. Anyway, I was excited to be on Grant Avenue, which runs through Chinatown and is the title of a show tune from "Flower Drum Song" -- I had it on vinyl sung by Florence Henderson. (Yes, I had a Florence Henderson album. I know, SO GAY. I got it at a thrift store somewhere.)

That corner hasn't changed much. Here's a Google Street View image -- if you rotate it to the right you can see that signpost, still looking the same, as well as the fire hydrant. (The newspaper box is gone, though.)

This is me in Key West in the early '90s, in a truly ridiculous outfit. Those shorts had the Flintstones on them. Throwing my arms out is my standard method of trying to make a photo more exciting.

This old dead tree used to stand in a pasture not too far from our house in Florida. Again, I'm doing the arm thing, with a leg thrown in for good measure. I'm trying to imitate the outstretched pose of the tree. This was probably 1990 or so.

Here I am in 1991 outside the post office in Toast, North Carolina, which really is the name of a community near Mount Airy. I was with my friend Suzanne and we were greatly amused to find a town called Toast.

And finally, when I first went to Morocco in the Peace Corps in 1992, I stayed in a village near Essaouira on training. The guy in the red hat, Ali, was my host -- I slept at his house and he insisted that I ride his donkey to the training site. I was nearly as big as the donkey and after this first day I insisted on walking!


sparklingmerlot said...

You really haven't changed much over the years. Some lovely photos and great memories. I now want a recent photo of you doing the arms and leg thing.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Jesus also rode on a donkey! Poor thing!...I mean the donkey, not Jesus.

Moving with Mitchell said...

That 1975 photo, adorable! And the others are wonderful (and adorable, too). But I now think all new photos should show you with your arms thrown wide.

gz said...

You went from stuffy dog to real dog!
An interesting series of you haven't changed that much

John Going Gently said...

How cute were you

Pixie said...

You haven't changed over the years. You have a lovely smile.

Andrew said...

You were one sexy fucker in your younger days, except for the Key West photo. You look great in the Sydney singlet.

So, what's the dirt on what you got up to in Morocco? A friend who holidayed there said to me, My God. You can't believe what the men in Morocco are like.

Bob said...

Great photos and I liked how the arm stretch became a "thing."

Ms. Moon said...

I wish I had known you then! We could have been such good friends. Well, of course I was busy raising children and so forth but still- I would have been a good letter writer at the very least. And by the way- I love the Key West outfit. I mean, really! That tie-dye is fantastic and the shorts with the Flintstones?! Be still my heart.

The Bug said...

I enjoyed that walk down memory lane! Mike's mom did the same thing to his favorite stuffed animal & he is STILL TRAUMATIZED about it. Oof.

Ellen D. said...

I love your big smile and the arm waving thing! So cute, Steve!
I still have my stuffed animal from my childhood. "Beary" is 71 years old now!

Ed said...

I have tons of pictures of my childhood but after I left for college, very few until I got married 22 years later. I never thought about it then but now it seems like a glaring hole in my pictorial timeline.

NewRobin13 said...

Such a great collection of photos of you over the years, Steve. You've been a cutie pie all your life!

Tasker Dunham said...

Thank goodness for photographs. We could forget so much without them.

Sharon said...

What a great collection of photos from the past. They are so much fun to see. I love the wide spread arms. It says "here I am world".

Jeanie said...

"Grant avenue, San Francisco/California USA/Looks down on Chinatown/Over a foggy bay."

Flower Drum Song/musicals -- you're talking my language! Loved seeing all the photos. It's such fun to see blog friends' pasts!

Are you getting terrible rains and flooding in your area? I was reading about London floods in the paper but no context re: location.

Margaret said...

These are great photos! I love looking at Steve of the past. Each one must hold many memories for you. In Senegal we rode on jakartas (motorcycles) and in scary "taxis" which I wasn't a fan of. No animals at least!

Debby said...

I love traveling back in time. I agree with everyone else. A new profile photo is needed with your arms thrown wide!

jenny_o said...

Wonderful series of photos! I think the arms opened wide is a vast improvement over what most of us do when we pose for a picture - i.e., stand like a lump. lol

That donkey looks like he's tilting to one side! I'm so happy to hear that you walked after the first day, although your kindness doesn't surprise me at all :)

ellen abbott said...

I totally love this post, seeing you grow up.

Red said...

these photos remind you of some key parts of your life. Lots of fun. thanks for sharing .

Kelly said...

I like all these photos, but I especially like the first one. My children were all stuffed animal lovers and I didn't realize there was a time you were expected to give them up! In fact, my youngest grandson (4) just brought me a new avocado Squishmallow last weekend!

Michael said...

I loved looking at all of those photos of you. They were kind of like a timeline. That photo of you with the stuffed animal is adorable. Thanks for sharing them!

Boud said...

Steve, throwing his arms up everywhere!! It's a field mark now for Steve watchers. Marvellous parade of pix.

Steve Reed said...

Caro: Maybe I'll take one in the garden! LOL

YP: Yeah, I felt bad for that donkey. I note that Ali is looking at it with concern, too.

Mitchell: Embracing the world! LOL

GZ: Yeah, I was definitely trained from an early age to be a dog owner! We got real dogs around the time of Puppy's disappearance.

John: I had my moments.

Pixie: Well thank you! I do have a BIG smile with BIG teeth. My friends always joke about how I look the same in every picture.

Andrew: I have been called many things, but I think you are genuinely the first person to ever call me a "sexy fucker." LOL! I was actually very chaste in Morocco. We were all trained in community and religious sensitivity so I didn't dare violate community standards! But yes, there is a thriving "scene" in Morocco, particularly in cities.

Bob: Completely unplanned! As I said, I was just trying to liven up the shots.

Ms Moon: My friend Sue gave me those shorts and I wore them for years!

Bug: Ha! Weirdly, I don't remember being too traumatized about it even then. I think I believed Puppy would show up again, having been left somewhere, and it was only later my mom told me what happened.

Ellen D: I'm so impressed you still have him! I don't have any stuffed animals from my childhood, but I have a stuffed dog that belonged to my father.

Ed: Well, when you're in high school and college you're busy with other things besides taking pictures, I guess. I don't have many from those years either. It's probably much different now with camera phones and Instagram.

Robin: Awwww, thank you. But really no. LOL

Tasker: I love old pictures, my own and everyone else's. I always have.

Sharon: I'm trying to appear enthusiastic under any circumstances. LOL

Jeanie: I love that you know the words! Did you listen to Florence's version? We haven't flooded here but we have had a lot of rain.

Margaret: I bet they use animals in the country. In Morocco you'd see lots of donkeys out in the "bled" (rural areas) but you'd rarely see them in cities.

Debby: I don't think that pose would fit in a profile photo!

Jenny-O: It's amazing how much a donkey can carry. Still, I did feel bad for it.

Ellen: That's it -- my youth in nine photos!

Red: You're welcome!

Kelly: I think if I'd left it at home in my room it wouldn't have been an issue, but I carried it around with me! (Not to school.)

Michael: You're welcome. One of the rare photos that shows me with hair! LOL

Boud: Glad you liked them!

Debby said...

With your wing span, it would have to be your banner picture!