The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby and Yellow Submarine, and Donovan’s Season of the Witch rolled lazily across the airwaves of downtown Indianapolis station WIFE as the month of September inched steadily onwards towards colder weather and the ending of the warmer summer months. The then 29 year old mother, living on the quiet street of Rose Lane, decided to do what any mother would do— record her son’s ninth birthday celebration. Along with shooting the birthday boy, the Polaroid recorded some general shots in and around the house on Rose Lane. However… the 6th photo was not expected, revealing something totally unrelated to what was happening that day—a man on a horse!
The Polaroid Instamatic Camera technology had been around for many years prior to the 1960s. It encompassed a cartridge (pack-film) which automatically ejected a self developing photo upon shutter release. This chemically developed print required the user to pull the print from the camera and peel apart the positive from the negative. And then wait for the picture to evolve into fruition. Today the Polaroid is considered a dinosaur, but back then it was the cutting edge of photographic evolution—instant results Very much like the instant gratification of digital photos today…with only one difference: Photo-shopping or alteration on a Polaroid print was next to near impossible!
Beverly’s camera ejected each photo with a unique number stamp (1, 2,3, etc.). The photos taken on the film-pack that particular day were at the home, and nowhere else. Man on a horse? Where did that come from? Yes…even the Polaroid film-pack had problems with double exposure (it happened quite often) yet, this image would have to be on that cartridge—somewhere—for that to happen. And it wasn’t. There was no prior Wild West Show or man on a horse…only a series of photos centered in and around Beverly’s house on Rose Lane. This is the exact reason she has kept these photos some 50 years after the fact! She feels there is something there.
The number 6 photo has zero visibility in the upper and lower right quadrants of the print, yet there is definitely a horse present in the center, and the figure of a man upon it, obscured from the left shoulder up. There is a definite shadow of the horse and rider (wearing a hat) on the building to the left. The structure on the left side of the photo appears to be a building as there are windows in the upper section. And…possibly some figure standing in the rear of the photo? This was not a photo that one would expect to pop out of the Polaroid on a son’s birthday party…or any day for that matter. Beverly explains:
“I’m missing the first photo of the series, but #2 and #3 were in the backyard for my oldest son’s birthday party. #4 was my father-in-law. #5 was a friend, her son, and me taken in my living room. #6 was the cowboy and the horse. #7 I took outside on my front porch with our friend and my two boys.” Photograph 7 is strange in its own right, with fuzziness from top to bottom, to the right of the figures on the porch. But again, could have been due to some chemical reaction in the developing film; or not?
Friend and photography extraordinaire, Kenny Biddle, examined the photo and commented upon it:
“An internal flaw in the packaging of the cartridge? There are a lot of issues with this image. The obvious white sections on the right, the completely black on the left, could have easily been caused during the 30 to 60 second processing time once it left the camera. Gripping it too tightly and accidently in the middle rather than the edges…would easily produce this effect. There appears to be a power line running through the top. The horse is clearly defined, but the rider is not. I can’t tell if the horse is real or a good prop, like in a museum or such. The rider’s shadow is clearly defined, but can’t determine if this is a real person or a mannequin. Perhaps there WAS a horse and one of her sons got on it?”
Beverly empathetically states—“No!” there was no horse or rider, and when this picture ejected from the camera, it shook her up. So much so that she has held onto it after all these years. Beverly Wagner feels the photo is one from a former time in the local area where she lived; an imprint of the past, so to speak. A power line, however, would place this photo into a different era. Photos of these sort is not an uncommon occurrence—there have been a multitude of photos over the years depicting events and characters from past years, having no relevance to the time the photos were actually taken in. Beverly moved away from Rose Lane in 1969. Presently she is retired, and after losing her husband almost two years ago, has relocated from Muncie back to Indianapolis, still on the south side and not far from the Rose Lane address. Two of her children reside on the south side. And of her experiences since? Beverly states:
“Over the years I Have experienced things that couldn’t really be explained—no proof—but I felt them, and always believed there is a lot more in this world than any of us really know about.”