Barbara Lee Dowell c. 1954

Barbara Lee Dowell circa 1954, before she was Barbara Fleagle and my mother.

My mother was sure she had given this photo to me and so for months now I have been periodically turning my closets and cabinets upside down and rooting again through every box and shelf and pile where I might have laid family photos, each time coming up empty. I knew I’d seen it recently – within a year or so – had my paws on it, but I could not find it to save my life. She found it a few weeks ago in a bottom dresser drawer at her house and brought it to me yesterday.

Here, then, is my mother’s high school graduation picture. I believe the year would be 1954, assuming she graduated when she was eighteen years old. Her alma mater was Milford Mill High School (now called Milford Mill Academy), which was brand new when she began attending there.

Mom and her little brother and sister were born in Baltimore and raised in Pikesville, in the same neighborhood and, for a while, even in the same house, in which her own mother had come of age. I have typically included some personal story or other life details with each portrait of a member of my close family. But because Mom is still living, it won’t do to dish out a lot more biographical data on this public website. And because one cannot accurately nor adequately describe one’s own mother I will resist the temptation to wax filial here. Besides, she’ll read this, so I won’t get away with any shenanigans. That she was the most beautiful young woman on the Eastern Seaboard is a fact plain for all to see, thanks to the lenswork of photographer Karl Segall of Segall-Majestic Inc., late of North Charles Street in Baltimore. She still looks just like this to my lights.

I will say this; her radiant blue eyes and her wry Dowell sense of humor put a whammy on Willard Foster Fleagle, fresh out of military service and sporting a pretty winning smile himself, whose proposal of marriage she accepted in the late 1950s. She came West with Dad in 1960 when he followed his older brothers to the land of opportunity here in Seattle. While she can do a number of East Coast vocal imitations to this day, over the years she became pretty happily rooted in the Pacific Northwest, where she blossomed as a wonderful mother to my sister and brother and me. – mdf

Image archive ID:

About the physical photograph:
4 x 6. Nothing written on back. In original cardboard studio frame with ‘Segall-Majestic 909 N. Charles Street Baltimore’ printed below photo opening.







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