A children’s make-believe wedding on the campus of the Thompson Orphanage in Charlotte during summer 1960 was part of a picture story on American orphanages published in America Illustrated, which the United States Information Agency (USIA) distributed in Russia. In an exchange agreement, the United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) magazines were distributed here in America. The orphans’ story was one of many that reached across continents to portray American life to Russian readers.
However, the agreement didn’t last long because all USIA magazines quickly sold in Russia while the USSR magazines didn’t sell in America. Diane, the little “bride,” showed an infectious and obvious happiness that represented the bright side of American life even in what one could imagine as a dreary and depressing setting. When this issue hit the newsstands in Moscow, it sold out in one day.
For me, there is great symbolism in Diane’s rollicking laughter. Kids have a wonderful quality of focusing on the present and future, not the past. And who of us didn’t play “dress up” when young? It represented our quest to be “grownup,” if only temporarily, and it gave us bravado as we practiced being an adult. Oddly enough, many of us find ourselves spending the rest of our lives trying to reconnect with the child within each of us.
Diane and the Make-Believe Wedding
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