The only thing I know for certain about this photograph postcard is that the woman behind the wheel is my grandmother, Geraldine. I believe it was made in some sort of studio where they pose you in a car. Look at that ramshackle backdrop.
I'm pretty sure this was taken in the 1920s. I think they're all college kids. I don't know if they're wearing their own clothes or if the photo studio provided costumes. The woman in the middle seems to be wearing a flapper costume, what with that headband, but wouldn't a young person have dressed like this then? The women who are not my grandmother are wearing awfully similar coats, and the men have nearly identical hats, yet my grandmother is coatless. So it seems that everyone but she put on the photographer's costumes. Why didn't she? Maybe she liked feeling of cool air on her skin and maybe she bypassed the costumes to jump in the car first and claim the driver's seat.
The pennants are scattered about haphazardly, and I realize I'm not quite sure if my grandmother went to Adrian College. I do know that she became a teacher, and that after she married my grandfather -- who is not in this picture -- she hid the fact that she was married, because they would have fired her for being married. Did they think a woman who had sex could not be trusted teaching children? Did they think a woman wronged her husband by going to work? Perhaps they thought it was greedy or unfair for a family to have two paychecks.
This picture mystifies me and makes me feel sad. It's not just the poignancy of the distant past, but that I never knew my grandmother when she was anything like this young and confident person. The Geraldine I knew suffered and complained. I never got the whole story out of my mother, but I think she completely changed when her fifth (and last) child was born with a hopeless birth defect and died within one year. So for me this picture represents the most unreachable part of the past. It makes me sad, but it also makes me happy. How charming and mischievous she looks!