The Karen Files, pt. 3

Every old-movie buff has seen scenes set in nightclubs in which a pretty gal with a camera sidles over to the protagonists’ booth and asks if they’d like to have a picture taken.

We’ve often wondered, when watching one of these movies, just how common a practice it was for night spots, tony and otherwise, to employ someone whose job it was to take and sell souvenir photographs. Was it always a woman?

And if it was common, what’s become of all those pictures?

Well, we can tell you what became of one of them.

As part of our ongoing weekly tribute to our mother, we’re very pleased indeed to share with you this shot, discovered in the days following Mom’s passing, as we explored hundreds of stashed-away photos and documents that she long meant to take down from the attic and organize.

The cover of the folder that held the souvenir photograph Karen and Lloyd in the middle, Marilyn and Ronnie on the left, Katie and Lowell on the right

The setting, as you can see from the cover of the folder in which the picture was stored, was Louie’s Club 29, which was located at 2929 S.W. 29th Street in Oklahoma City.

We’re guessing the year was right around 1955, give or take a year or two. Mom and Dad can be found smack dab in the middle of the picture, and she hasn’t yet gone blond, a transformation that occurred in the late ’50s. And that’s Dad’s younger sister, Marilyn, and her first husband, Ronnie, on the left, each sporting a wedding ring. As Dad recalls it, they were wed in 1954 or so.

And that’s Katie and Lowell (Lo-Lo to us kids) on the right, backyard neighbors to our folks from 1955 through 1964. The two couples were so close they ran a fireworks stand together for a couple of summers in the mid-1950s (doesn’t that sound like the plot of a forgotten I Love Lucy episode? Fireworks: Lucy hatches a get-rich-scheme, convincing the Mertzes to go in with the Ricardos on a seasonal fireworks stand).

There are other details we find intriguing about this photo. For one, everyone appears to be limiting themselves to Coca-Cola—there are several bottles scattered about the small table and what appears to be an ice bucket. Was that how soft drinks were served at Louie’s: self-service, with bottles, glasses, and a bucket of ice provided?

We note from the cover of the photo folder that Louie’s Club 29 featured three floor shows nightly. We don’t mind admitting we’d give our eyeteeth to see one of those shows.

And the photograph, as the cover touts, was taken by a gal named Peggy. We can’t help but wonder where Peggy is today. Is she still snapping souvenir photos somewhere at some time-capsule of a night spot? Probably not, but here’s hoping she’s still going strong somewhere—taking photos of her great-grandkids, perhaps.