An Out-of-the-Blue Gift from a Total Stranger
I must first add to the title… From a Total Stranger, but NOT a Stalker.
My writing career, and the readers of my blog and various writings have brought many, many gifts to my life. These gifts are usually in the form of me receiving thank-yous, accolades, and tangible reasons or results of how the subjects benefited greatly from my writing. Sometimes the gifts are in the form of people recognizing my name when they meet me, who then give me compliments on my writing, or tell me what a fan they are of my writing. And for a period of time, I heard from countless people who told me I spoke for them during the Memorial Day floods in Houston, and that it helped heal them from the trauma to read my writing. Healing people through words is truly a gift that I would love to use more often.
Of course my writing is a gift because so many people have expressed to me that they appreciate and admire my talent. You can’t put a price on that kind of validation. I write to GIVE, even if it is just a laugh or some relief, and yet, I get so much in return. I tell people this all the time.
So recently, out of the blue, (and my Facebook friends and readers may recognize this story) I received a message from someone I did not know who lives in Philadelphia, where he is a respected member of the Penn faculty and a renowned physician. Many people contact me from all over the world through my blog, and so it is not surprising to get messages, complaints, or people just wanting to tell me their story and why they related to something I wrote. I always respond. It is the polite thing to acknowledge someone who took the time to reach out to me.
About a month ago, a person who wrote to me, a man, told me when he was a young boy, he was a very serious amateur photographer and he went around Phillies games capturing a lot of action. He was recently Googling various Phillies stories from the late 70’s and early 80’s heydays, and found my blog. (Linked here) He recognized me from that long ago due to the photos in the blog, and thought that he had photos of me that he would have taken back then. Would I like the photos? he asked.
He went on to explain he picked a more traditional professional career, (to great success obviously as I immediately Googled him!) but that his photos from back in those days when he was a young teen meant so much to him, he had them digitized and filed by year.
Would I like old photos of me? Would I like to step back in time and see me as I was at my own heyday, now that I am an old lady? Hell, yes!
My husband and children were skeptical and thought he might be a weird stalker or have bad intentions. Yet, intuitively, I knew (after Googling him) that he was being sincere and just wanted to gift me these photos I had never seen.
I responded an enthusiastic yes, and waited. He had to cull through many many digital photos to find me and he is a busy man. About a week later, I got the photo. (Only one, so I don’t know if he had any others but he only sent this one.)
I was utterly astounded at how perfect the photo was and how it captured me exactly as I was, in all my glory as a member of the Phillies Hot Pants Patrol and Promotions team. Although my hair was frizzled pretty badly in the photo, undoubtedly due to the weather on the day it was taken, my awkward smile tells the tale of my posing for countless strangers taking photos of me during my tenure with the team. It shows my green eyes in full intensity at their youthful and unlined largest, and I always felt they were my very best feature of all. It shows my figure in that hot pants uniform that makes me wistful for those days when the scale never ever moved upwards.
It is unbelievable to see a brand new photo of yourself (that you had NEVER SEEN) from all those many years ago. (the year was 1979) It is like stepping into a time tunnel and traveling back to 1979 and seeing yourself as you were. It is a magical and mystical feeling, I must say. And so, it is the ultimate gift.
Here is a closeup of my eyes.
And here is the entire photo – including those famous boots!
Thank you Dr. Prestigious Penn Person, who I may never meet, for your gift and for taking time out of your busy schedule to look through hundreds of photos to find one of me to send.
And thanks too to all of my readers for continuing to read me and share my journey in life; and who give me regular gifts of appreciation all of the time.
Nice story. I was the NE megaphone photographer in 1963/64 hand also took photos of many folks I don’t recall or remember. I gave away copies of my saved Megaphones a couple of high school reunions ago. In my decluttering effort I have an envelope labeled “Sharon Schwartzman sweet 16”. She probably turned 16 in about 1965, probably went to Washington, and probably lived on or near Artwood Drive.
So. Sharon, if you are out there and would like your negatives, you are welcome to get in touch with me!
From seeing this photo, I am pretty sure I remember you, and it’s the eyes that I recognize and stand out. Some of your comments caused me to laugh & brought a smile to my face. What a nice thing for prestigious Penn Dr. to do, and you must have made an impression. Really enjoyed this story. I too long for the days of the unlined eyes, the eyes, where can still actually see the pupils, and the hot pants bod. BTW, you still look great.
Thank you so much! You recognize me from the Phillies?
It is a wonderful photo and you look great. How nice that this person read your blog and was kind enough to send it to you.
Yes Pete, you know too what it is like to receive a long ago photo of yourself in your prime that you had never seen. It was truly a gift. Thanks for reading.
Let me add that you still look great. Other than your hair color, you haven’t changed.
Wow, whoever you are, thank you for making my entire year!
Beautiful. How lucky that he happened to read your blog and reach out to you.
I know, I feel really lucky!