You can see they stand next to each other, smiles almost identical, hair perfectly set, and only a slight height difference to tell one from the other.
They had done everything momma told them to - put that lucky penny in their shoe, fixed their hair so it wasn’t “perfectly scandalous” but, “proper, like a true lady in want of an enjoyable evenin’.” They made sure their lace handkerchiefs were ironed with great grandma’s unforgiving starch, and, most importantly, their bodices had to be just tight enough to “show their young figure,” but loose enough to show they were still innocent girls, who “have a papa with the best marksmanship records in the proud state of Mississippi...”
The local Baptist Church was holding a Valentine’s Day Dance that night. The old white church stood a few miles down the road, with a curiously ancient looking steeple and old stained-glass windows lining the sides of the main chapel. One twin smiles mischievously, determined that she will have a long awaited Valentine before the night is over, and the other beams with tenderness, at the thought of her sweetheart waiting for her. Vallorie, the smaller one who is full of deviousness, fidgets with her hair, complaining to Momma that one curl was completely out of place, ruining “the effect.” The taller one rolls her eyes and elbows her younger (by a couple of minutes) sister. She is breathing deeply and trying not to catch the staring eye of her suspicious papa who is aware that she is far too composed for a Valentine’s evening as compared to previous years. Instead, Voncille glances with anticipation towards the country road, occasionally looking towards Mrs. Henderson, who, even after thirty minutes, cannot seem to maneuver the chunky camera borrowed from a neighbor. Cars honk as they pass by the camera spectacle in the front lawn of this pious farming family - of course, the passing young men do nothing for fear of fatherly defenses. But, one waves politely and gives a gentlemanly smile towards the family as he passes. She blushes and fidgets with the embroidery on her dress. Mr. Henderson, however, rises and begins walking towards the mailbox to “watch the sunset” with a grizzly, protective expression on his face. Vallorie nudges her blushing sister and giggles ever so slightly. “I think I’ve done fixed this crazy camera!” Mrs. Henderson exclaims... “Darlings you better smile quickly. This thing isn’t well-mannered.”
An exclamation. A click. A moment in time is captured. Something that will never be repeated. Two souls, two sets of emotions, two dreams and hopes permanently seized in time and space. The moment is over before it begins, and the girls are off to the dance. Mamma and Papa are mumbling over the camera as the girls walk past the picket fence. Vallorie runs ahead, but Voncille turns back to see her father leaning on the mailbox, watching them leave - a shotgun still in his hand...
(Vallorie Henderson and Voncille Henderson, mid-1930's)
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