The "Professor Dingell's Night Out" series is thought to be from the 1950s, and to have been taken in the United States.
An average of ten cents was paid for each image.]
Of course, our true, central interest in this series are not these secondary characters who, all being equal, are only of note in that they confirm the unity of the photographs. The two characters of primary concern are, of course, "Professor Dingell" and "The Faceless Girl."
Some have disputed the identity of the man in the third image, dancing with Ms. Sparkle. We similarly note that some have disputed the validity of the theory of evolution, or that the earth revolves around the sun. We give all such alternate interpretations due consideration, treat them to the rigors of our minds, and then dismiss them as we deem fit. This man is as surely Prof. Dingell as it is surely the case that the earth orbits the sun.
Why does Prof. Dingell strut and stroll and galivant so? Who embraces Ms. Sparkle to her delight? Where is the Fez Man always going, and why is it never to the lonely Lady in the Pillbox Hat? Why does the Faceless Girl keep her back to the camera?
It truly is the first picture which is primary, and when we look at it, we can almost hear the muttered rumors,
Isn't Professor Dingell a little too . . . intimate with his students?
Professor Dingell, Edna? He's far too prim and proper for an affair!
Yeah; maybe a little too prim and proper. All those pretty girls studying his Shakespeare— fella is maybe a little funny if he doesn't even take a peek at 'em . . .
the smiling accusations,
Like them young co-eds, don't you Gene?
the passed up promotion, the forgotten invitations, the unpublished papers, the unrecognized merit. Quiet, inoffensive Prof. Eugene Dingell, with his soft hands and soft voice and round glasses and secret love for the verse of Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Rumors with the persistence of memory, reproducing themselves in mouth after mouth, like bacteria multiplying in a warm petri dish, or a catchy tune jumping from one absent hummer to the next and slowly easing itself around the earth, until Prof. Eugene Dingell was caught in a noose gossamer, universal and deadly.
But the question remains: Is this his first meeting with the Faceless Girl, the begining of his end, or the final moment, when there is no longer anything left to lose? What happens next, as they revolve again, and come face to face? Where do his hands go when they aren't guiding the phonograph's tune through the air? When the liquor has brought a fever to his brow, it's savage mirth to his lips? And when have the Faceless Girl and Prof. Dingell gone, as the jukebox plays platter after platter, and Ms. Sparkle dances and dances and dances?
Where have you gone? Where have all of you gone?
Share on Facebook
Tweet about this Piece
Poor Mojo's Tip Jar: