Friday, January 16, 2009


Vincent Van Gogh had his yellow house in Provence...

...and my father, George Simmons, had his yellow bushes in a suburb of Providence.

This is a black and white photo, but trust me, those bushes in the background are ablaze with flaming YELLOW blossoms. Vincent and George had a thing for that color - the color of sunlit wheat, the color of cooked corn, the color of fox eyes, the color of rodent teeth - the color of forsythias!

I wrote a bit about the infamous forsythia bushes aka "the yellow bushes" in a previous post. They were one of my father's all time favorite backdrops for family photo ops. Here I am in front of them with my siblings, Steven, Debby, Kenny and Sue, on Easter Sunday, 1958.

And here are my brothers with my double cousins Del and Christopher, that same Easter Sunday, in front of those same yellow bushes. Those boys are all tanked up on chocolate, I'm certain.

And here I am with my sisters Sue and Deb, and my double cousin Kathy. Kathy and Debby are 8 years older than me, and their birthdays are less than a week apart! Both Leos. And they look it! They've both always been terrific dressers. Check out those hats! And the pearls, gloves and corsages. We didn't mess around at Eastertime. And my mother made all our dresses! I'll wager that my Aunt Carolyn or my grandmother made Kathy's frock...

My mother must have taken this photo.

l-r, back row: Del, Steve, Uncle Stuart (holding Christopher) Kenny, Aunt Carolyn, Louise and Jim Young (family friends from Williamstown, MA) and Gramma.
l-r, front row: my father, George, holding me and Susan, Kathy and Debby.

Fast forward to 1963, and here's my baby sister, Amy, who is eight years younger than me, taking her place in front of the requisite backdrop.

Martha, Steven, Susan. Yikes. Big Steve is almost as tall as those bushes!

Debby with an old beau. (I did not like that guy - he had smelly feet.)

Sisters, sixteen years apart. Debby holding Amy.

Debby and Amy again. I love this photo.

Martha, Amy, Susan and Fraulein, our neighbors' dachshund.
(That poor dog had dozens and dozens of puppies in her life time. Our neighbors never had her spade and every male dog in the neighborhood was always after her! Regardless of breed, regardless of size...(!)

Fast forward again to 1972. My senior prom. Dig those outfits! Look at that jacket! I had a great time at my prom because I just went as friends with this young man. He was very sweet and very bright. Sadly, I heard that he committed suicide in the 90's.

My parents in front of the yellow bushes, 1974.

I realized that I had a picture of all my siblings and all my double cousins in front of those jaundiced blooms, all except Jonathan! I did not want to leave him out, so here is the budding musician in 1974, sporting a golden yellow jacket that old Vincent would have approved of...

...and here he is roaring on his golden yellow trombone! Jon graduated from Berklee School of Music and plays with the award winning band, Atlas Soul.

So much creativity in my family, thanks for letting me share. I figure that if nothing else, these old photos are of general interest purely for the fashions! And thoughts of yellow bushes are really quite nice right now - it was 13 below zero outside when I awoke this morning! Stay warm and have a great weekend!


Nancy said...


I love the pictures you have been posting on your blog spot. Where have you been finding them? Have you been accessing the pile of family photos that are stored at Deb's?

We did you a few degrees better out here in Minnesota, this morning we were at 22 below. Yesterday (just as cold) we woke up to discover our household water line from our well had frozen.

The well contractor had to be called yesterday and, $750 later, we had water again. The only problem was he messed up our iron treatment system and we now have iron back in the water.

Now we need the water treatment specialist ($?). Keeping with your blog theme, though, we now have yellow water...but it doesn't remind me of yellow bushes.

Also, our tenants car froze as solid as the snow dinosaur you featured a couple of blogs ago and wouldn't start. I showed those pictures to Lane and Dalton and now they want me to help them build a snow dinosaur...what have I done.

The only problem is Minnesota doesn't produce dinosaur building snow. It is either the same consistency as powder or it's frozen solid.

1963 must have been my year for the stern look in photos (as Sue observed in the snow dinosaur photo). See if you can find a 1963 picture where I am smiling.

Thanks for your pictorial diversion from this stern winter. Speaking of stern winters, whatever happened to those crys of global warming from the democrats? Hmmmmm!

Love ya,

SMPS said...

Wow, those photos are so great -- I absolutely love the girls Easter hats, and then Martha's prom pic. Love the pictures of Jonny, too!

Martha Miller said...

Oh, my, that's right. My big brother is a Republican. That would explain the stern look...

I have several of Dad's old albums, Steve! I have all of the slides, too, and will soon be scanning some of those. Tracey and I are gearing up to get the family site up and running. We've decided that a blog would be a fun way to do it. It can evolve and people can comment and tell stories! These are a few practice posts!
Hmmm, a photo from 63 with you smiling...let's see...

Love ya, too, Big Steve!

Martha Miller said...

Hi Shawn!

Thought you'd like those cute pics of your sweetie!!


Caitlin said...

Oh wow, LOVE those cupcake dresses on you and your cousins/sister for easter! My favorite though, is the one with your brother in the middle and you and your sister on either side in matching frocks. These photos are killer!