Rebel Without a Cause

I love this photo! This is Marvin Earl Swindall, as the iconoclast. No date or information provided with the photo, so I had to do a little sleuthing. Earl isn't wearing a wedding ring, and compared against other photos definitely taken in the 1950s, I estimate this was taken between 1957-1959. Earl left California sometime between 1956-1957, leaving behind his first wife and their young son. I imagine it was not an easy decision, but once made he didn't look back. That boy is my husband, and it's unfortunate he never had the opportunity to meet his father--this photo could as easily show the son as it does the father. And that's why pictures like this one are so precious to him. In 1957, both Earl's parents and his older brother were living just two houses apart on the same street in Birmingham. Earl's sister is still living, and from what she's told us about him, he was full of life and laughter, but every bit the rebel. So I was surprised when I described him in the photo with his motorcycle (because there was no reason to think he wouldn't have a motorcycle in those two years between marriages), and she was quick to say she didn't think he had ever had one. But his older brother did. So, now I can place this photo at the precise location, as well as time, and weave a tale of a young man dreaming of his new found, if conflicted, freedom. I might even speculate that he found freedom a little daunting because he remarried, twice, after this and apparently never had a motorcycle of his own. I think he would have appreciated knowing his son lived this dream for him.

Marvin Earl Swindall, abt. 1957 (age 25), Birmingham, Alabama

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