Myrtle in the Hat in the Sun – Revealed

Myrtle Sylvia Phenice Bucklin circa 1950

When I was looking for something to write about this evening, I stumbled across this old, blurry, sunbaked photo of my grandmother Myrtle Sylvia Phenice Bucklin.  While it is not the best quality photo, I really liked the whimsical look and smile on her face.  Even though it shows a side of my grandmother I appreciate, I wasn’t sure the photo was in good enough shape to share.  But I thought I would give it a try.

This is one of those photos that I never know what the final result will be.  I’ve had better photos that I’ve edited and the results are awful.  Either I can’t get the features to look  right, or for some reason it doesn’t look like the person with the changes that are made.  I was worried that it would happen with this photo since there is contrasting darkness with sunlight and shadows.

I couldn’t even tell where her eyes were looking when I first started working on the photo.  The more I worked on it, the more I realized she was looking into the car that she is leaning against.  There are also lots of spots on the photo and a few places where the image surface had been torn off.  So I had to doctor it quite a bit.

When I went to run it through the sharpening program, it didn’t work.  It wasn’t able to recognize her face, probably because of the confusion of where her eyes were looking.  So I edited it some more to help to define her eyes.  That was all it took!  It sharpened up her face and it actually looked like my Grandma!  I still had to edit it some more to put more Myrtle back into the photo. 

Edited photo of my grandmother.

So here is the final result.  Look at that smile.  I think that’s the thing that drew me to the photo in the first place.  She looks like she’s having a jolly good time visiting with someone in the car.  I’m estimating the date of the photo based on how old she looks compared to other photos of her from around that time period.  Of course with the blurriness of the original photo, I could be off from the right date by a decade or so.

I am pleased with the result, otherwise you wouldn’t be seeing the revised version and you’d be reading about how I tried to improve that original old photo.  I would have still used that old photo by itself.  I was always charmed by it, but now even more so.  The photo was taken around 1950 when my grandmother was around 43 years old.  That was around the time that Betty Lou (Myrtle’s second daughter, my mother) was a senior in high school.  The oldest daughter Sylvia had gone off to college that year.  Alma would have been two years behind my mom, and Loris was two years after her.  The baby boy Austin was five years younger than Loris.

If I got the year close, it wouldn’t be long after this that she would become a grandmother.  She and my grandfather Fred Bucklin lived out in Hathaway, Louisiana, when most of us grandkids were growing up.  It was a fun place to visit.  They had a sock monkey that I always wanted to play with once I got there.  There were always puzzles to play with.  We had fun picking fruit in my grandfather’s nursery, making mudpies in the garden, and playing around out in the bamboo stand.  Their kitchen cabinets were backed with the same material as old chalkboards, so we could write and draw on them.

One of the things that I especially liked about my grandmother was her laugh.  She had a hearty, infectious laugh.   When I look at this picture, it reminds me of that.  I’m sure that this mirthful, expectant look was followed by rollicking laughter.  At least I like to think so.

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