My mother and all her sisters attended San Francisco’s Mercy High School in the 1960s and 70s. Auntie Jeanne, the firstborn, graduated in 1963. Jeanne recently let me borrow all of her Mercy yearbooks for a little project I’m working on.
I was flipping through them today and realized that despite the fact that 1) almost every picture is in black and white and 2) they had school uniforms, you can still get a feel of the aesthetic and sartorial pleasures enjoyed by all these teenage girls. The yearbook from 1960 is my favorite, and I’ll let the photos below explain why. Don’t miss the last one, where I came across a face that was oddly familiar to me.
Now, I had the knowledge somewhere in the vast recesses of my brain that at the same time that Auntie Jeanne went to Mercy, so did the mother of one of my dearest friends, Annie Wilson. Unlike me, Annie is a born-and-bred San Franciscan, and is my go-to friend for (among many other things) all the little historical facts and quirks about the city. Years ago we did some quick math and determined that her mom and my aunt had been at Mercy at the same time for maybe a year or two. 1960 was my aunt’s freshman year, so I figured that this yearbook would be my best shot at finding a photo of Annie’s mom. Well, toward the front of the yearbook, I found this:
To my amazement, I saw that Annie’s mother, then a senior, had actually signed my aunt’s yearbook. Who could have imagined that fifty years later, the daughter and niece of those two high school girls would live in the same city and be friends. I did a little dance in my chair when I found this image. It seems a bit out of the ordinary for a senior to sign a freshman’s yearbook. Not unheard of, but one would think they had some kind of connection that would warrant such an action. At any rate, they definitely shared a moment, however brief, back in 1960 and this yearbook is evidence.
I look at that graduation photo and can’t help but see Annie. The spark in those eyes! The curve of her nose. Hairdo is definitely different, but the light and energy in her face, for me, can’t be missed. Annie’s mom is also the gal in the red plaid outfit in the ‘tea party’ photo above.
It is for these reasons that I agonize over getting rid of photos, yearbooks, or other kinds of visual media. You never know when something could unexpectedly surprise you.