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Even getting a family portrait is a hassle

May 19, 2012
By SUMMER WALLACE-MINGER , Weirton Daily Times

"Fatty Lumpkins keeps asking where all his pictures are," my mother said. "He asked if he was the baby in the picture with your Long Suffering Husband."

That baby wasn't my nephew Fatty Lumpkins. It was my son, and he was less than a year old the last time we had a photo taken with the extended family. My Little Professor just turned 10, so it has been a little while since we had a family portrait taken. Since my Grandmother Maudine - who could have given Ouiser Boudreaux lessons in comportment and "sweetness" - passed, it was my responsibility to organize these things.

I suck at organization. And time management.

I do have my children's photos taken more often than every 10 years, and my sister's older son the Heathenish has had his photos taken through school and his involvement with sports. And my sister, Foo-Dog, takes pictures of her children literally every day. Every. Single. Day. And posts them on Facebook.

It's not like this kid is suffering from a lack of photo ops in his life.

I did arrange to have a photo taken of all my mother's grandchildren about five years ago (also for Mother's Day). It is prominently displayed in her house.

Of course, Fatty is only four years old, so ... yeah, he's not in that one.

"Fatty is really upset he's not in any of the family photos," my mother said.

So I called my cousin, who's opening a photography studio in Follansbee, and she was thrilled to death at the chance to take the kids' photos, because, let's face it, Foo-Dog and I have some good-looking kids.

"You know what I want to do?"

Whenever anyone in my family asks that question, it is a Very Bad Thing. In fact, you'd be better off just walking away, because, at some point, someone is going to get hurt or something is going to explode.

"Um. No. What?"

"I want to get them on the docks. We can put them in blue jeans and white T-shirts and have them sitting on the end of the docks, with their pant legs rolled up and their feet dangling in the water."

"How're you going to get the photo? The river's really deep there."

"I have wading boots."

"Oh, nuh-uh. If you get sucked into the river and drown, I'll have to hear about it at family reunions for the next 60 years. 'Remember that cousin of ours? Summer Dawn pushed her in the river and let her drown!'" (My family has a flair for the dramatic.)

"I'm just worried about the camera," my cousin said.

Foo-Dog, however, was captivated by the thought of her kids forever immortalized.

"Dad has a canoe," she said.

"You can't paddle the canoe and take photos," I pointed out.

"I'll just park it," our cousin said, also enchanted by her artistic vision.

" ... it's a canoe. You can't park it. The current will take it."

"We'll get a rope."

I imagined myself standing on the bank, holding on to a rope tied to a canoe swaying in the current while my cousin attempted to photograph the children.

"I'll ask Dad if he'll paddle while you shoot."

My father agreed to do so and we scheduled an appointment.

It rained. It rained sheets and buckets and cats and dogs. Everything was thoroughly soaked, and the river was high and fast. My father informed me there was no way he was going to be able hold the canoe still enough for a decent photograph.

I conferred with Foo, trying to reschedule, but between the kids' extracurricular activities, it wasn't looking good.

We finally abandoned the idea and had their photos taken in a local park, and the sun shone down just long enough to get pictures of smiling children, instead of wet and miserable and mommy-can-we-go-home-now children.

I framed a 20- by 13-inch print and presented it to my mother, who immediately hung it up in the living room.

Grampy Grumpy examined the photograph.

"At least it will keep the rats away."

(Wallace-Minger, a Weirton resident, is The Weirton Daily Times community editor and can be contacted at

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