Her big band swing


By Jock Lauterer

Writer’s Note: the following is excerpted from my work-in-progress book manuscript honoring my late brother, “KEEPER: A Brother’s Restoration.”  Click on this link and listen a little, before reading on…

Sometimes, there is no picture…then there’s no picture!” — Henri Cartier-Bresson, Iconic French master photographer.

So I shall have to paint a picture in words: I am 8; Nick is 13. It is Saturday morning at 407 Pritchard Ave. Big band swing music from WPTF-AM radio fills the dining room where our mother has been kidnapped, transported in time by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra playing “A String of Pearls.”

Dancing solo around the room with an invisible partner, hair all a-frizz, in her roomy turquoise floral house smock and floppy bedroom slippers, her florid face wreathed in a beatific smile, she mimics the band’s driving 4/4 time signature, sounding out the hypnotic beat with her own syncopated accompaniment:



Then, as Nick enters the room, she glides over to the helpless lad, caught flatfooted and gaping at his dancing mom, who, without preamble, takes him in her arms and leads the embarrassed teenager onto her imaginary dance floor, lost in the music, the moment, another time, and another dance partner,



Around and around the dining room/dancefloor they go — until Nick, flushed and flustered, manages to disengage, making some lame excuse about having to go mow a lawn or fix his bike.

Barely missing a beat, Mom turns to the next male in the room. 

Here she comes, arms out to enfold me.  



Jock Lauterer is a longtime photojournalist, honored in 2020 by PEN America as a “Local Journalist Hero. He is a senior lecturer at the UNC-Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media and is the retired founding director of the school’s Carolina Community Media Project. The author of six books, Jock is also the winner of the 1998 National Geographic Magazine Faculty Fellowship, among his many accolades

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1 Comment on "Her big band swing"

  1. Thanks, Jock for that reflection on “String of Pearls”. I’m a little behind you chronologically, but I remember my Mom dancing with me to the sounds of South Pacific.:) Happy Thanksgiving!

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