Lee Ann's Picture
by Mike Peters
In genealogy, there are many John or Jane Doe's--men and women without identities. They are everywhere. We find them in shoe boxes, old wallets, suitcases and picture frames. They are beside family members and laughing with friends. We see them in familiar surroundings and still we do not know them. They are not the product of amnesia. They are this way because of neglect. Many of our relatives did not write names or dates on their pictures. They didn't think there was a need. They knew who the people were. They just forgot to tell us.
The other day I was looking through a metal box and found a color photo from 1967. It is the small variety, the size that elementary students exchange with each other. The name on the back brought a smile and some wonderful memories.
Lee Ann Tally was the prettiest girl in Robert E. Lee Elementary School. At least, that was the consensus of the fourth grade boys. On the playgrounds of Abilene, Texas her picture was worth as much as any cardboard likeness of Mantle, Mays or Aaron.
I remember thinking that she was the reason God made convertibles. The tilt of her head. The windblown hair. The lean into the driver's right shoulder. Softly humming or singing along to the AM ballad on the car radio. One of my father's good friends, Howard Smith, drove such a car--a white 1960 Chevy Impala ragtop. With Lee Ann by my side, there would be no speeding. The drive would be slow. It would be braggadocios, swaggering and cocky. Look who's snuggled up next to me. The car would grab their attention. The passenger would keep their focus and the driver would be forever known as "one lucky guy."
Daydreams quickly give way to the realities of youth and life. It would be some six years before I would drive and my father died in the summer following my fourth grade year. We moved away from Abilene, away from Mr. Smith's car and away from Lee Ann.
I got to go back the other day because a ten-year-old girl wrote her name on the back of a picture.
Thanks for listening and as my Grandma Coleman used to say, "Ya'll come!"