The Look, 1975

It was a time when tube socks were pulled up to the knees, when everyone wore the same sneakers, and there were only one or two wooden racket brands to choose from. It was a time when tennis lessons were given free on the Oak Bluffs courts by bare-chested young men who watched a lot of Magnum, P.I. It was a time when most kids on the Vineyard wore rope bracelets around their wrists, my hair still turned blond in the summer sun, and my great uncle Clayt Hoyle, one-eyed and leaning to the left by then, still owned his tackle shop across from the courts.

Uncle Clayt is long gone now, my cousin Beth (the very happy girl in the picture) is a grandmother, my older brother Jim has given up wearing short shorts and very wide collar shirts, and six years ago I moved to the Vineyard with my family to live here year round. I still play tennis, but Mike McCarthy, our instructor in the photo, does not. I asked him about this one day when I visited him at the high school, where he is the director of the guidance counseling department. Mike’s father, Dan, bought the tackle shop from Uncle Clayt a few years after the photo was taken, and then years later sold it. It is now a house. 

Mike told me tennis just sort of disappeared for him over the years. He was seated at his desk, still working with kids, only now he wore a shirt and tie for his job. And although this made a lot of sense, going to work at the high school fully clothed, it also made me a little sad.