This September, we were contacted by Glen and Mary Jo, who asked to have their portrait taken with our Man on the Moon set. Their story is powerful and we feel very lucky to have been a part of it. We wanted to share the tale and the lovely pictures of them with you all!
The jist of of the story is, Glen’s parents and grandparents both have portraits taken from their wedding in the classic Man on the Moon set. Glen and Mary Jo got married in 1998 and had been searching for a photographer and a Man on the Moon set to take their picture with ever since. Recently, Glen has had numerous strokes that have gotten worse over the course of many years. Mary Jo began her search for a photographer in earnest. After searching all over the Southeastern corner of Missouri, she started looking in the Saint Louis area. On Google, she ran across our Man on the Moon set that we made for the Moonrise Hotel in 2013. They scheduled an appointment with Photomaton, and you can see the pictures for yourself! Read Mary Jo’s full story below, it is very sweet and worth a read.
“It was in the fall of 1998, that Glen and I met and fell in love at a small skilled nursing facility (my place of employment) in Southeast MO. I was the evening shift charge nurse and Glen was a deputy sheriff at the time. The reason we met at a SNF is because Glen had a part-time evening shift job delivering medications and medical equipment to various nursing homes and individuals.
It was on Glen’s second delivery to my SNF that we began to converse. With each visit to the nursing home we became more and more attracted to each other. I learned Glen was a warm, generous, kind, sentimental, and honest person. Also, he always made me laugh! Several months later we began dating and by the end of the year we were married.
By Jan. 2000, we had moved to Cape Girardeau, MO. As we began settling in our new home, Glen unpacked two old family photographs. One photo (dated circa 1913) was of his paternal grandparents (George and Jennie Stockwell) and the other photo (dated circa Dec. 1942) was of his parents (James and Lucille Stockwell). Both of the photos had a “Man in the Moon” for scenery. But, due to the almost twenty year span of time, Glen‘s parents had a more modern version of the Man in the Moon.
Glen said that his parents had attempted to recreate the original photo of George and Jennie Stockwell’s (Glen‘s paternal grandparents) Man in the Moon. At the time, Glen told me that both of the photos were taken at the Highlands Amusement Park where the St. Louis Community College at Forest Park is now located. Being the sentimentalist that he is, Glen told me he wanted for us to recreate these Man in the Moon photos too. It sounded like a lot of fun and I immediately began searching for photographers in the Southeast MO area to help me with this project. Little did I know it was going to take me 15 years of searching on and off to complete our project.
Of course, SE MO has fewer photographers than the Metro St. Louis area. But, I was committed to this project. In early 2000, I began searching through the SE Yellow pages for anyone who had a backdrop scene of a Man in the Moon. I called all of the local photographers in the SE MO area. But, none of the photographers had a Man in the Moon background scene. Then, I began calling the local department stores who had a portrait studio. They too denied having the Man in the Moon backdrop. None of the photographers could even suggest anyone who had a Man in the Moon scene for us to use.
All the while I was searching for a photographer with the proper background scene, Glen was having multiple strokes. Fortunately he recovered quickly and didn’t have any lasting damage from the mild to moderate strokes. Even with the best care that SE MO physicians and neurologist could offer Glen continued to have multiple strokes every year. Glen has had mild strokes too numerous to count over the last 16 years with four strokes qualifying as moderate to major.
The last major stroke Glen had was in 2009. In fact, the damage was so extensive it paralyzed his left-side and he had to re-learn how to eat, talk, walk, and to use his left arm and hand again. It took over two years of speech therapy for Glen to be able to speak audibly. The head of the Stroke Team at Barnes-Jewish Hospital told us the damage to Glen‘s brain was so extensive, from years of multiple strokes, that he should be confined to a bed or wheelchair for life. She even told us it was unusual for someone with this amount of brain damage to even be alive. So Glen‘s recovery was a miracle from G-d!
Glen‘s declining health was a major reason we returned to the St. Louis area. He needed to have some of the best neurologists, heart specialists, and physicians to help manage and prevent Glen from having more strokes. With Glen‘s poor health outlook, it seemed that time was of the essence for us and I didn’t want to waste anymore time. So, once we were settled in our home in Fenton, MO, I renewed my search to locate a photographer who would have the Man in the Moon scenery for our family photo recreation. To no avail, that is until just recently.
Over the last 16 years, I contacted over 30 photographers, both here in the St. Louis Metro area as well as the SE MO area. Only a few of these photographers answered my phone calls or voice mails. When a photographer actually contacted me, they always told me they didn’t have any “Man in the Moon” scenery and they couldn’t give me any referrals either. A few of the photographers told me they “didn’t do studio portraits”. But, good fortune came to us this past August when I sent out emails/voice mails to over 10 local photographers explaining the need for a Man in the Moon background scene and asking for their help. But only two out of the over 10 photographers I emailed/voice mailed bothered to answer me. Then, I found your Photomaton website. So, we chose to hire you [Photomaton] because of what I found on your website.
After typing various words and phrases into a search engine, regarding rentals of background scenery plus photography, the search engine showed your [Photomaton’s] website. As I scrolled through the various posted photos on the Photomaton website, I saw people having a lot of fun while their photos were being taken. Then, I saw a section entitled “Moonrise”. When I clicked on it I couldn’t believe what I had found–it was a photo with the Man in the Moon scenery right in front of my eyes! The Moon was amazingly similar to the vintage photo Man in the Moons in our family photos. I was surprised and delighted at the same time. I couldn’t wait to show it to Glen. He encouraged me to send you an email, which I did immediately. With your quick response we had set the date. Glen and I rented vintage costumes from The Vintage Haberdashery (Circa 1920’s to 1930’s) in order to really personalize our recreated family photos and have fun whiles doing it. The rest is now history.”
-Mary Jo Stockwell