2009 Top One Hundred Countdown # 1: Cabinet Card—Mrs. Wirt Robinson (Anita Alice Mathilde (Phinney) Robinson) [Brought Forward For Pure Greatness] by mrwaterslide

I bought this card from an Internet dealer (not Ebay). He had posted the card, as he does every two weeks, and put a price on it, and no one had bought it. The photos are posted on Sunday, and the first person who says he will pay the money gets the photo. I told the dealer I was tempted, and he emailed back and urged me to buy it. Naturally, I ended up buying it, even though it was priced very high. I’ve paid more for a photo, but that was on Ebay. I’m not going to say how much I paid for this, but it was a lot.
On the one hand, you could say I overpaid. I mean, it’s just a photo of a woman looking in a mirror. The photo has some fingerprint smudges, it’s kind of plain, barren, there’s not a lot going on, and though I find this woman attractive enough, she’s not a stunning (a favorite Ebay seller’s word) beauty. I mean, it’s just a nice photograph—why did I waste my money?
I paid that money because the photograph is astonishingly modern. It’s like the past leapfrogged the present and jumped into the future. I mean, this woman is dead, and there she is, looking right at us, right now, not a hundred years ago, or however long ago it was.
Did she know that we would be looking at her? Why isn’t she smiling? I think she isn’t smiling because she’s saying "I Lived." She’s saying, "I’m Living." She’s saying, "I’m Alive." And of course she’s not alive. But she is alive.
Perhaps I bought the photograph because it distills into a single artifact so much of what draws me to old photographs (and yes, of course, I find her attractive).
I don’t think the seller had done a lot of research on Wirt Robinson. Maybe one of you who has access to genealogical resources could find her first name for me. Perhaps there was more than one "Wirt Robinson." However, I found information on only one, and since the one I found was a good one, I didn’t look any further.
Wirt Robinson was in the Army, and he taught at West Point. He wrote a book which seems to be still in print, with the wonderful title "Notes On The Circumstances Of A Moving Projectile." Apparently, when he wasn’t teaching at West Point, he was off in the tropics, looking at birds. Somewhere (ART_NAHPRO perhaps will find it for us) there is a book he wrote, or illustrated, about birds in the forests of Venezuela. How he could have borne the absence of Mrs. Wirt Robinson is beyond me. Perhaps the experience of her was so rich, so filling, so extravagant, that he could only take a little bit at a time, like foie gras or something. From the looks of things, I would guess that Mrs. Robinson was extremely sensitive in that little square inch just behind her ear lobe. They say that the universe is so vast that out there somewhere there is another planet where they speak English. If that is so, perhaps there is another planet out there where Mrs. Robinson and mrwaterslide might meet and fall in love (of course, not-wanting her to be Mrs. Robinson, but Amelia Arnold, or whatever her maiden name was.)
I have this idea of what Wirt Robinson was like. He must have been an academic sort of fellow, but, like Mr. Chips, he was that lucky fellow who met the love of his life, and won her heart, as she had won his. Unlike Mr. Chips, I hope his love endured in the earthly realm, and lasted to old age. There would have been fires in the fireplace, and sherry, and croquet perhaps, and the triumphs and sadnesses of students who came and went (it seems that Wirt Robinson lived in to the 20’s though I haven’t found a date of death.)
One last little tidbit, that I saw once and now can’t find again—apparently at West Point there is a little memorial to Wirt Robinson, and it seems, though I haven’t been able to find a picture, that it is a statue of a bunch of ducks. I really hope you’re allowed to go there and see it.
via Flickr http://ift.tt/2qfVNym