MYSTERY SOLVED, SIS-BOOM-BAH

Connors_juneJune Connors (nee Evans) strikes a familiar pose at the McKay Gallery last month. The original shot is below. (Photo above courtesy Liz & Bob McKay)

She’s frozen eternally in a moment of school-spirit optimism, a girl in cheerleader regalia from another era.

But even after her picture went on public display as part of a Red Bank centennial event in late November, the show’s curators, and the artist who supplied the image, didn’t know for sure who she was.

Now, the mystery has been solved, and the woman who was that girl has been reacquainted with the image. 

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The early-1950s shot of the cheerleader was included in a show that wraps up tomorrow at McKay Gallery. It was submitted for the exhibit by filmmaker and photographer Anna-Maria Vag of Laurence Harbor.

Vag, who collects old images, had found it among dozens of negatives in a film-processor’s envelope she bought about a decade ago at Nostalgic Nonsense, a vintage clothing shop in Belmar. The name of the customer given on the envelope was “Jane Evans.”

The young woman in some of the photos “was obviously wearing the Red
Bank High School logo,” Vag says, and the film had been processed,
according to the envelope, through a drugstore in the borough.

“I always wondered who that might be, but I didn’t think I’d ever find out,” she says.

Vag (who was the cinematographer for the powerful documentary film ‘Snake Hill,’ which screened to a packed house in Red Bank in June, 2007) tells redbankgreen she long planned to make prints from the shots, but didn’t get around to it until she learned of the McKay’s interest in putting on a Red Bank retrospective, which included works by 30 artists and amateur photographers.

Bob McKay, who owns the gallery with his wife, Liz, heard through sources that the picture was of a June Evans, but he was unable to locate her.

But soon after publicity about the show began appearing, June Evans Connors got a call from her son, Tripp Dupree of Rumson.

“He said, ‘I’m almost positive your picture is in the paper,” says Connors. More calls followed.

Connors says she assumed someone had simply taken her photo from a yearbook. It wasn’t until Dec. 18, three weeks after the show opened, that she got a chance to visit the gallery and heard about the provenance of the image.

“I walked in, saw the picture, and said, ‘That’s me!'” she says.

The photo shows Connors at about age 15 in front of the house at 28 South Street, where she lived with her family; her father, Joseph Evans, was a Red Bank policeman. She later married, moved to Fair Haven, worked for the phone company and had three sons before settling in Shark River Hills, where she now lives.

She tells redbankgreen that Vag “obviously got ahold of something that might have been sold when my grandmother’s house on Pinckney Road was sold.” And this wasn’t the first time. “A few years ago, a young friend found a bunch of my pictures in Belmar,” she says. He said he’d gotten them from an antique dealer, she said, and returned them to her.

And what does Connors see when she looks at the image?

“I see somebody who enjoyed things,” she says. ” I enjoyed my school life tremendously. I’m pretty much the same person today.”

The McKay Gallery is upstairs at 12 Monmouth Street. It’s open today and Thursday from 1 to 7p. For information, call 732.842.2272.

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