A childhood without proof

I’m the sixth kid of a family of seven. So, by the time I came along the idea of some kind of a photo archive for me was pretty much out the window. When I turned either eleven or twelve years old I went on a mad hunt tearing apart our attic looking for baby images of myself—searching for any physical proof that I was once a child. I turned up only one solitary image of me at the age of two. So, for the first half of my life at that time I had only one image of myself as a child…one! At least until this evening when my next-door neighbor from Baldwin, Long Island tagged me in an image she posted on Facebook. She figured I was about 4 years old— the same age my son is now—and it’s wildly fun to impose the resemblance in appearance and mannerism interpreted from this artifact upon Miles.

The baby bava can be found in the bottom row, middle

Here’s to you Facebook, I don’t know if I love you, but a twelve year old I once knew hadn’t counted on you twenty five years ago, and my mother sure as hell would have been spared some adolescent angst had we known you would be so damn good at connecting people with their past.

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19 Responses to A childhood without proof

  1. Tom says:

    Now that is pretty cool! And I picked you out with no hesitation. 🙂

  2. Reverend says:


    Did my clean, close shave give it away? Or perhaps it was my unrelenting joy despite the huge stain on my very 70s shirt 🙂

  3. Joe says:

    What is that you’re holding? Baby’s first blog post?

  4. Clint says:

    Are you getting a behind-the-back burn from the kid behind you, or is he just suffering from the pain and indignity of being forced to wear plaid pants?

  5. Mikhail says:

    I don’t know. I’m still not convinced you exist.

  6. Tom says:

    Jim Groom is, and always has been, a figment of my imagination.

  7. “Portrait of the Edupunk as a Young Man”

  8. Matt says:

    Great shot! Love the dramatic evil eye coming from the little guy in plaid pants behind you!

  9. Tom says:

    I blame too much energy after this long break but I was able to track down another picture of you in your youth. It’s one of your most formative moments.

    I hope you appreciate the amount of time I spend in the historical archives of NYC to find this.

  10. Reverend says:


    That absolutely hysterical, can’t believe you found that one. I have been trying to disremember my days as a NYC street urchin, but this brings it all back in glorious black and white. You’re a psycho!

    As for everyone else, you indulge me far too much, and if I had another image of me as a baby (besides those dark days as a cigarette smoking baby hooligan) I would abuse you with such self-centered nostalgia on a regular basis 🙂

  11. Martha says:

    This was the funniest thing I had seen in a long time — then I saw Tom’s find, and that’s even funnier.


  12. Martha says:

    BTW, are any of those other kids Bava Brothers or Bava Sisters? There seems to be some family resemblance.

  13. Reverend says:


    Yeah, the girl in the top row, far right is my sister Daryel Ann. The kid who looks all mad is my best friend Tim O’Hare, and his sister is on the bottom row, far right, Alicia. The other two are sisters, Mary and Jeanie–it was Jeanie’s 3rd birthday.

  14. Jim – I’ve had a similar experience — for most of my college and early adult years I was quite impressed by my lack of stuff — I kept nothing. I was all about Art and the Mind, you see.

    So I had, until recently, not one picture of my outside a family event from around 1987 to my wedding in 1997. It’s been a hoot to see those pics reappear via facebook. And enjoyable for my kids as well.

  15. Reverend says:


    I agree entirely, the way this stuff finds you again with these networks is wild. I recently had a picture find me that I would much rather have forgotten, and yet I think it is important it is there. It actually makes me come to terms with a past I really can’t entirely control because others own a piece of it as well, and they can attest and testify to much of my character I never would.

    See, that’s why I like the baby pictures, there are so few of them which makes the interpretations and counter narratives far less likely. Funny how with dgital identity and social networking we are keen on framing our online identity, but we also should note it provides a space for others to inject realities from our person we aren;t always ready to include or admit to. Which for me makes it real and complex.

  16. I think we’re a bit lucky in that way too — that there is so little that the emergence of new data forces a real rethink about our past.

    One of the few things I kept was letters I had never sent. I’m not sure why. But occassionally when I got haughty I’d read these insanely supercilious letters overfull of Rilke and Pound references — and it would just creep me out that I was such an uppity prick.

    Of course, over the years I forgot that these were the letters I decided *not* to send, and started to see myself as a person who had been in that period detached from people, and that luckily I’d gotten over that and become a more friendly outgoing person sometime around Grad School.

    Now that pictures of that period emerge, they are shocking. I’m holding up a funnel for someone in one, I’m always engaged in a conversation with someone or another, usually smiling in a way that has nothing to do with Critical Theory.

    In a way I don’t like that — I liked my old narrative where I got seduced by a life of the mind and came back to the real and the social. It had an ARC, you know?

    But I’m relieved to find out that I wasn’t a dick.

  17. Pingback: An Experiment in Digital Storytelling

  18. Chris Lott says:

    Mike: I did much worse– I actually sent those letters out. And I still do! I keep thinking that each year I get less and less prickish, but that’s probably just wishful thinking…

    Reverend: our house burned down when I was five and my mom had already gone through a separation from biological-papa, so there are only about a half-dozen pictures of me as a child. Lately I’ve discovered– and have been flickring for posterity– a treasure trove of photos of my mom and her sibs, grandma and her sibs, and some of me from 7-17. I may be the only person I know who gets depressed looking at such pictures, particularly of myself….

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