Picnic with Theresa

Picnic at Sherman's Point, Camden, USA, 1900, by the family and friends photographer Theresa Babb (second from left drinking from bottle).

Picnic at Sherman's Point, Camden, USA, 1900, by the family and friends photographer Theresa Babb (second from left drinking from bottle).

Writing Prompt No. 66

Guest Post No.3 by Retronaut

Arthur hid behind the rock. He’d followed Aunt Theresa and her friends all the way from the house. He’d managed to slip passed his father and disappear out the scullery door. She wasn’t his Aunt. He worked downstairs at the big house. She lived with the family upstairs. Everyone called her Aunt Theresa. She insisted. She once gave him a bag of boiled sweets on his birthday telling him in hushed tones to not breathe a word to anybody. He liked her. She had kind eyes.

Her friends had come to stay for the weekend. Arthur found the group of loud opinionated young women fascinating.

Aunt Theresa owned a camera. Whenever he saw her it was hanging around her neck. He wanted to know how it worked. How this mysterious box created magical pictures with the light of the sun.

The women gathered around the rocks, laying out cushions and blankets and setting down a basket of food. The bottles clanked against each other as they set it down.

Arthur couldn’t quite hear their conversation. Although a bright warm day, there was a breeze which carried their voices away from him. Aunt Theresa was talking, arranging something. She bent down selected a bottle for every friend and one for herself. She set up her camera on a wooden tripod and gave out directions to the group. Every friend seated themselves down, arranging their skirts just so and turned to the side. Aunt Theresa clicked something on the camera and hurried over to take up her own position in front of the lens.

“Now!” she said, her voice loud and strong. Everyone lifted their bottle to their lips holding still until the camera shutter clicked. At the tiny mechanical sound, the women dropped their hands and laughed. Arthur laughed too. At the sound, all the women turned to face him.

Above photograph is from the capsule ‘1898-1900: Picnicking with Theresa’ found at the wonderful Retronaut. Image is reproduced here with the kind permission of Wolfgang Wild.

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