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Dancing Man

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Karen Lethlean

The television shows historical footage, first time telecast in full colour! On the small screen an adult man, dressed in a suit, is doing a high-knee, skipping, floating dance along Martin Place. In an area usually about serious business, he is kicking up heels, dancing in public, and in daytime hours. Elegantly tipping his hat with a generous sweep toward newsreel cameras, and watching crowds.

‘I was there, that day.’

My gaze turns away from the flickering television screen, placed high enough so residents can’t adjust brightness and contrast controls. They’re permitted to work volume and channel, but Mum won’t touch those: 'What if I make it too loud, dear? Didn’t know what to watch so I left TV off'. Truthfully, she can’t follow programmes anymore.

‘Did you see the dancing man, Mum?’

 ‘No, Sally. But there were big celebrations, Sixth Division returned, two ranks of troops marched. Paper and flags everywhere.’

Plenty of digital images are preserved to recall these moments. Anyone can look at them by accessing State Library resources. Now prime-time television airs newly-mastered, colour-tinged images. First time we’ve seen colour introduced, bringing new sweeps of emotion, even if the skipping dance of an anonymous man, impulsive as he celebrated declaration of peace, gets telecast on rare occasions when those decades, any significant history, is deemed worthy by broadcast executives. If only my mother’s memories could be refreshed, and preserved for the family to view, we might all understand what she’s been through.

I’ve seen photographs of Mum and Aunty Dorothy. No relative at all, just a work friend. Can we call you Dot? No! Two young women, with shoulder-length brown hair, visible, if this image was in colour. Kept in shades of grey, they still smile broadly, almost lost in a crowd of like-expressed faces.

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