A fall photo shoot gone awry

A fall photo shoot gone awry

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Halloween stories bring back a memory of one I had in Memphis, Tennessee, years ago, where I sorta got in trouble.

As an Associated Press photographer, I often took pictures of symbols of the various holidays. It might be daffodils in spring, lions sitting on ice in the summer or turkeys at Thanksgiving.

This one was during Halloween in the early 1950s. I obtained a very large pumpkin, carved it out, had an artist friend draw some ogling eyes on the front, found a good-looking girl, placed her in the pumpkin and went to a nearby field that had corn stalks in a bundle.

It took a bit of work, but I got the girl on the corn stalks, got her into the pumpkin and holding a broom. I’m down low shooting what I thought was a unique feature picture.

Then I noticed three women walking down a dirt path approaching me with crossed arms. Lo and behold, it was a Catholic Mother Superior, followed by two nuns. I was bewildered.

“What are you doing?” asked the Mother Superior. “Do you know this is a Catholic convent, and that I am receiving many phone calls from neighbors asking if this is one of our girls?”

My response and explanation seemed rather shallow. Knowing I had the picture in the bag, and with as much humbleness as I could muster, I retrieved the pumpkin and the girl and retreated from the hallowed ground. Looking back, I could see all three ladies with their arms folded across their chests. I didn’t have the guts to take that photo. My tail was between my legs.

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