The 1953 Yearbook Picture

When my sister passed away in December of 2010, there was some question among her family as to which of her pictures was her senior yearbook photo.  I told them that I didn’t recall the picture and believed she had chosen not to order the picture nor the yearbook back in 1953.

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest daughter and I made one of our rare trips to the big library in downtown Cincinnati which has a whole floor devoted to genealogy.  My daughter noticed a new feature – a collection of old high school annuals.  I thought this might be the time to clear up the mystery of the picture and was lucky to find a copy of the Withrow 1953 annual.  I found my sister’s senior picture right away.  I don’t know why she didn’t order it at the time – it was a nice picture.

We also found pictures of her working in the Treasurer’s Office and sitting in front of the famed Withrow tower.

My sister is the blond in the center of the picture.

Then, we had a most unusual experience when we looked inside the front cover and saw a handwritten message from my sister to the owner of the yearbook.

The best of luck to a swell gal who has always been willing and ready to do small favors for me throughout my four years in high school.


Shirley Applegate


There were no other notations in the book and no way to identify her good friend.

This was downright eerie.  What were the chances that an annual with her message would be donated to the big downtown library and that we would pick up the book and find the note over 58 years after she had written it?

Shirley went on to have a devoted husband of 55 years, 2 sons, 12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.  I’m glad we were able to find her senior class picture to pass on to them.


The Christmas Portrait

Shirley and Lillian, 1945

The lack of money during the depression and then the lack of cameras, film and flashbulbs during World War II meant that the childhood lives of my sister and me were recorded in  a few snapshots or tiny dime-store photo booth pictures.  In December of 1945, I was in the 8th grade and my sister, Shirley, was in the 5th grade.  My father’s sister, Annie, had a coupon for a free sitting at a portrait studio and secretly took us downtown to have a Christmas picture made for my mother.  I wore my favorite dress (a castoff from my Aunt Myrtle)  – a brown gabardine with velvet Chesterfield collar.  Shirley never wanted to wear anything but blue jeans at that time, but she did put on a nice blouse and red sweater.

I remember the photographer had Shirley straddle a bench beside me in the studio to get in the right position and he took a shot from the waist up to avoid showing her jeans.  Annie had the 8×10 hand-tinted portrait framed and gave it to Mother on Christmas Eve.  Mother considered it a special Christmas treasure and had it on display for as long as she lived.

My little sister, Shirley, passed away on December 7, 2010.

R.I.P., Shirley