I told my mother that I was intrigued by the expression on her face in this photo from the Fall of 1940. It looks to me as though she were channeling Jack Benny. It’s an expression I’ve seen on her face countless times over my lifetime, but I didn’t even know her until she was 26 years old, so it seems strange to see her wearing it at age 4. Her response was that she was very displeased at the time to have to make room for a little brother.
I doubt there was ever a photo that more perfectly captured in its outward details the inner life of everyone in the frame. Here are the happy parents Wilma Caroline (Rohde) Dowell and John Lewis Dowell Jr., newly blessed and focused entirely on the new arrival. And here is the newly besiblinged Barbara Lee Dowell deliberately not focusing on the new arrival, in fact turning away and mounting an expression as though she’s about to say something exceedingly droll. The new arrival is John Lewis Dowell III, a.k.a. Jack, who is behaving as babies usually do.
The photo, Mom avers, was taken on the porch of “Number 10 Hawthorne Avenue”, as she refers to this house in Pikesville, Maryland. She could tell instantly because of the little bit showing of the house nextdoor, which was the Meyers’ house. This would have been not long after the family moved back to Maryland from South Carolina.
The Dowells lived at #10 Hawthorne Avenue for a number of years before moving into the house Wilma grew up in on Brightside Avenue just two streets over.
Image archive ID:
About the physical photograph:
Written on back [this looks like Wilma’s cursive]:
“Baby Jack & Barbara”
Barbara supplied info, mdf wrote:
“#10 Hawthorne Ave on front porch – mdf
‘Meyers’ house nextdoor'”