Family Photos Before an Overseas Assignment

Quito, Ecuador Family Photo circa 1958
Quito, Ecuador Family Photo circa 1958

In the late 1950s, my father received orders with an assignment to the United States Embassy in Quito, Ecuador. One of the good things the government did back then was make a family photo before each overseas posting.

In the picture is my dad. He is in his early thirties old. My mother is in her mid-twenties. My brother is three. I am five years old.

Do you remember having family pictures made? They are one of the most traumatic experiences of my youth. We had to get on just the right clothes. We had to stay clean. We had to sit still.

At five years old a necktie was like a noose. I found it choked me. I remember I kept removing it and getting my parents upset. I was a smart kid. I still remember suggesting why don’t we just wait and put it on when we take a picture. Apparently, that was both the right and wrong thing to say. My little brother followed my lead and removed his tie. My folks finally caved and let us keep them off until we arrived at the military photographer.

Staying clean was the second problem. Crawling on the floor and playing with our army men and cars were regular activities. When we got down on our hands and knees to resume playing mother had visions of us wearing holes in the knees of our pants. She made us get up and sit on the couch while dad and mom finished getting dressed. “Sit and don’t move” was her command.

When it was time to get in the car for a short drive to the studio, my brother ran toward the car and fell getting his grass stains on the knees of his pants. Mother calmed a visibly upset dad. She pointed out they probably wouldn’t be taking pictures of his green knees.

Well, we arrived for photos. They placed us just like they wanted after first putting our ties back on us. We wiggled like worms and giggled. Finally, they said to say cheese. Then they tried again having us say watermelon. I guess they finally got the solemn look they wanted and snapped a picture.

We never moved to Quito, Ecuador. Dad’s orders were canceled. Instead, we moved to Luke Air Force Base near Glendale, Arizona.

This process repeated five years later when my dad received orders to Vietnam. You guessed it; dad and mom stressed over getting the pictures. My brother and I were typical little wiggly boys.

Do you have memories of having family pictures being taken? I would love to hear them.

Jimmie Aaron Kepler

Jimmie Aaron Kepler’s work has appeared in six different Lifeway Christian publications as well as The Baptist Program, Thinking About, Poetry & Prose Magazine, vox poetica, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Bewildering Stories, Beyond Imagination Literary Magazine and more. His short stories The Cup, Invasion of the Prairie Dogs, Miracle at the Gibson Farm: A Christmas Story, and The Paintings as well as Gone Electric: A Poetry Collection are available on He is also the author of The Liberator Series. The Rebuilder – Book 1 is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released October 1, 2015. The Mission – Book Two will be available Spring 2016, The Traveller – Book 3 will be available Summer 2016, and The Seer – Book 4 will be available Fall 2016.

Leave a Reply