The Girl in the Picture
Son's search for mystery woman in father's World War II photo brings joyous closure
BY JERRY HUFFMAN
The sepia tone gives the photo a sense of history. Three young people, teenagers really, leaning against a World War II truck bumper. All three look happy.
Happy because the war had ended less than 24 hours earlier and that meant no one would die today.
The three, a young boy in a Boy Scout uniform, a pretty girl in a striped dress, and an American GI wearing an expression of exhaustion, relief and happiness.
The GI is the one who touches my heart because it’s my dad, Paul Huffman. He was a 19-year-old tank driver in the Fourth Armored Division. Landing in France after the D-Day invasion, he fought his way through the Battle of the Bulge, across Europe, and was in the small town of Blatná – then Czechoslovakia – the day the war ended.
I never knew the young man in the picture. He had an impressive mop of red hair, was kind of skinny, and had no clue what life would hold for him over the next 50 years. The man I grew up with was almost always tired from working too much but usually found time to play catch when I was a kid.
Growing up, I came across this photo several times and asked my father about it. It was never clear who took it or how it came to be in my dad’s possession. Despite the presence of the unknown scout in the picture, it was the young woman who intrigued me most. I asked my dad for her name but, like most other details of the war, the memory had faded as his hair thinned. Nudges and winks that maybe she was a girlfriend were always shut down.
Dad was always more interested in reminiscing about the Blatná villagers who treated the American soldiers as heroic liberators. When he died in 1987 I assumed any chance of finding the mystery girl was gone as well.
With a loving kick in the pants from a Slovak friend, herself a war baby, I started looking again recently. An email to the Czech ambassador in Washington led to Blatná’s mayor, Kateřina Malečková, which led to a feature story in the local newspaper. (more…)
Upcoming Screenings of The Reporters Inc.'s New Documentary Scheduled in Illinois, Oklahoma, Iowa and Texas
After successful premiere parties and screenings in Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Portland and Seattle during the winter and spring of 2018, the next (currently scheduled) screenings of The Queens are set for:
* Chicago, Illinois on Saturday July 21st at Hamburger Mary’s
* Oak Park, Illinois on Sunday July 22nd at Hamburger Mary’s/Oak Park Brewing Company
* Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday August 11th at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center
* Iowa City, Iowa on Monday September 10th at the University of Iowa Memorial Union
* Lubbock, Texas on Thursday October 11th at the Texas Tech University Student Union Building
Part Paris is Burning, part RuPaul’s Drag Race and part Miss America, The Queens is a feature-length documentary that explores the transgender subculture of competitive female impersonation. When the lights dim and the curtains part, gasps can be heard in the audience because the queens in The Queens never fail to mesmerize.
They’re gorgeous, mysterious, complicated, and infinitely entertaining. But the secrets and the scandals inside the longest-running female impersonation club in the nation, and behind the scenes of the most prestigious transgender-centric beauty pageant in the nation, are equally fascinating. The entertainers immersed in this community share the highs and lows of their lives as they compete for the coveted crown, in The Queens.
For ticket info, additional film details, and more trailers: www.thereporters.org/project/the-queens/
The first reviews are in:
“The Queens is a joy ride, presented with gritty vibrancy, showbiz pizzazz and erotic splendor…this documentary entertains, informs, and ignites the imagination. The lines between male and female are sculpted into new forms…we witness artists in process with purpose. They glory in the unfolding transformation, sometimes at great sacrifice and expense.” –John Townsend/Lavender
“Some people see these performers all dressed up and might dismiss them as frivolous but The Queens also brings fabulous historical context to subjects like violence against trans women, addiction, sex work and HIV/AIDS.” –Scott Duff/Co-Host of “Out Chicago” on WCPT 820 AM
Tiffany T. Hunter is one of the entertainers profiled in The Queens.