Note From Quentin:
The Imaginary Family Project is open to a fair amount of author freedom. When I first began to structure the project, I thought that most writers would, as I did, just write a short 2 or 3 paragraph entry. To my surprise, most have written much longer stories. Our author this week has taken a new approach, presenting 3 mini-stories. Are they about the same person? Different people? That’s for us readers to figure out with our own interpretation. Enjoy!
I. This is the woman my aunt on my mom’s side had an affair with for a while in the late 50’s. Virginia Pulaski. My uncle always said her whole name like that. “Mary’s playing bridge with Virginia Pulaski tonight, Mary’s going shopping with Virginia Pulaski after church today” It wasn’t mean, though. He kind of sung it. Sing-song. In hindsight, it seems obvious he knew about the affair–he seemed to approve even…but, somehow the way he said it made it clear he was an obvious “other” in the relationship
So they weren’t swingers or anything like that, is what I’m saying. Virgina and my aunt had a thing. Those were the perimeters; it was clear. She even came to a family reunion, a camping trip, which is where this photo was taken. And everyone really liked and welcomed her, and no one asked where she came from, or how she and my aunt met. At least not very loudly, if they did. Most people didn’t bat an eye about it which was the even weirder thing about it given the time and the place. Cause, other than that, we were a pretty conventional family reasonably situated in that time and place–midwesterners in the middle of the century. And Virgina Pulaski was a pretty conventional lady, too. She was an advice-columnist for the local paper. She wrote under the name Dixie. Dear, Dixie. Her advice always included a bible verse she thought was appropriate for the dilemma, for further contemplation. After a while, though, they quit hanging out so much, my Aunt and Virginia. Just more and more infrequently, until finally, she wasn’t coming around anymore at all. No one said anything about missing her either. No one asked what happened to Virginia Pulaski. She was there and then she wasn’t, that’s all.
II. This is Virginia Pulaski. She was my aunt, married my dad’s brother. They were childhood sweethearts, together forever. Which made the revelation about his later activities all the more startling. No one had a clue. She committed suicide about a year after he was arrested. She was a sweet lady, really inexperienced. It was all just too much for her. No one blamed her, really.
III. This is my aunt–she managed a campsite for years and years. My family had frequent vacations and reunions there. Virginia Pulaski. She was the oldest of 11 girls and the job suited her; she was really good at being in charge. Some of that leadership ability came at strange costs though. She could be really uncompromising when she felt she had to be and had an explosive temper on the other side of that rigor. She had a reputation. For example, she had a very specific set of standards for behavior on the campgrounds. Everyone acquiesced because no one wanted to make her think she had to be uncompromising. Cause otherwise, she was a hoot. Laughed easily and often and she was the boss, so everyone also figured it was her house, her rules. And the campgrounds were great. Everyone agreed it was a lot of fun to be there. There were frequent games and opportunities for sport and entertainment. Think small scale Dirty Dancing. It was often a seamless manifestation of joy through coordinated camp activity. And the rules were easy enough to fulfill, just weird and kind of arbitrary. Like, you had to wear sunscreen. She knew if you didn’t. And the cabins were named after the planets, Mars, Mercury, Earth, etc. and she had ceramic pins made for each, they had a really ornate font, all curly ques and flourish. You had to wear it. They were nice; no one minded really.
About The Author:
Erin Thomas is 34 years old. Female. White. She didn’t grow up with much contact with her family. Like all circumstance, this is both good and bad. But still. She’d like to invent a bit, maybe position an ideal sketch of someone she would have liked knowing. Or maybe she’d rather outline a horror story. Something that reinforces bullets dodged. Either way, she sees this as an opportunity to hijack some else’s past for her personal use.
Authoring For The Imaginary Family Project:
Are you interested in “finding” one of our lost vintage photos by authoring a story?
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Imaginary Family Project Author Request Form
About The Imaginary Family Project:
The 2011 Imaginary Family Project is a year-long collective art endeavor coordinated by occasional amateur artist Quentin Bomgardner and co-sponsored by The Red Dirt Chronicles. This project is based around “lost” vintage photographs, which have been acquired at flea markets, garage sales, estate sales, and eBay – heirloom collections, with no heir. Every week a different author will “find” one photograph by creating an imagined history around one of its subjects. At the end of the year, the collection will be compiled and presented as a group.