I have been searching since I began this blog, and I have finally located a photograph (below) that I took when I was attending Community College of Allegheny County back in 1970.
I was taking photography classes and was given an assignment to capture “winter” in a single photograph. As I was standing in front of The Famous building, across from Kelly & Cohen, on 5th Avenue waiting for the bus home, the snow was falling pretty heavily. I saw a little old lady approaching with a very determined look on her face. I had been randomly shooting photographs of the snow event as I waited and decided to capture the moment as she passed in front of me.
She walked into and out of my life in an instant. I never knew who she was.
I attended photography classes in the building that was to the right of the Penn McKee Hotel on 5th Avenue. I believe it was/is the old YMCA. The college had a complete darkroom set-up available to their photography students, and so the day after my snow storm shoot, I proceeded to develop my film, hoping that I had captured an image that would appropriately represent the word “winter.”
As I reviewed all of the images on the roll of film that day, the photo of the little old lady jumped out. I immediately knew that she would be THE ONE to guarantee me an “A” for the assignment. I carefully cropped, composed and enhanced the black and white image, completed an 11×14 print, and submitted it to Mike Friedlander, the professor, for grading. The good news? I aced the assignment!
I kept the picture tucked away for years at my childhood home on Thomas Street. It wasn’t until 1999, as I was packing-up Dad’s house after his death, that I was reconnected with the image of the little old lady.
As I stared at her face, I realized that since it had been 29 years since the picture was taken, she had probably passed away. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I had just lost my father, but I began to stare into her face and wonder who this little “bubba” was.
With her babushka tied tightly under her chin, I imagined that she was making her way down the streets of McKeesport to Balsamo’s Market. The snow was pelting down on her, but she was determined to make it to the market to purchase what she needed to prepare a huge pot of stuffed cabbage for her family that would be visiting her the next day. Or, perhaps she was on her way to St. Peter’s Catholic Church to attend morning mass?
By posting this photograph, I hope that someone recognizes this precious little lady. I am certain that she was a VERY important part of a family’s life. She certainly has meant a lot to me. I haven’t forgotten her for over 40 years, and I don’t even know her name.
There is an old Serbian rhyme that pays tribute to one grand lady in all of our lives, our Bubba!
Stara baba stara je,
Kad se ljubi mlada je!
Tebi baba volecu,
Od ljubavi umrecu!
A bubba is old,
But when she kisses you, she’s young!
Bubba, I’ll love you,
I’ll die of love for you!