Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Back Story Behind a Famous Photograph

The photo?  A sailor has grabbed a woman in a nurse's garb and planted a big kiss on her lips.  The occasion shot on August 14, 1945, was the day that Japan surrendered to the U.S.  Alfred Eisenstaedt, the photog who got one of the best grab shots in photo history went on to a glorious career.  The couple went on to lead their lives unidentified for many years, until the '60s.

After the photo became famous, he was asked if he'd ever followed up with Greta - asked for her phone number or anything?  "No," he replied,  "I had a date with me."

Today's paper ran a very small obit on George Mendonsa, the sailor.  Two days before his 96th birthday, he fell and quickly died of his injuries.  He and his wife of 70 years dwelt in an assisted-living facility, their daughter disclosed.

His prey (thinking about today's rage at this sexual assault!) died in 2016, aged 92.   Greta Zimmer Friedman was not a nurse, but a dental assistant.

Born in Austria to Jewish parents,  at age 15, she and her sisters immigrated to the United States.  Their parents, unfortunately could not escape and died in a concentration camp.  Greta continued her interest in fashion by attending fashion schools using the dental tech salary to pay her way.

She married, they had two children.  Due to his work as a scientist, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery where she lies with him today.

I know for a fact that she occasionally dabbled in posing for art classes because I sketched her in one.  My drawing teacher the late George Gardiner and she were friends and a couple of times, when an expected model had cancelled, she posed for our class wearing the complete nurse's uniform of the day - opaque white stockings, low-heeled white shoes, the uniform and the cap.  She and George talked during the breaks so she didn't mingle with us, the students.  My sketches of her were included in a very small showing of student's works.  It was a big deal at the time my class had her for a model, but these many years later I'd never thought about it until I read this morning's notice of his death. My sketches are "somewhere in this house" but I'm not tempted to dig around and find them.  Done is done.  They both had apparently good lives, certainly lived on into ripe old ages and God bless them both.

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