© 2024 KGOU
Photo of Lake Murray State Park showing Tucker Tower and the marina in the background
News and Music for Oklahoma
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

More About The 40-Year-Old Picture That Makes People Smile

This 1973 photo of five children playing in a Detroit suburb has gone viral on the Internet. The children were Rhonda Shelly, 3 (from left), Kathy Macool, 7, Lisa Shelly, 5, Chris Macool, 9, and Robert Shelly, 6.
Joe Crachiola
Courtesy of The Macomb Daily
This 1973 photo of five children playing in a Detroit suburb has gone viral on the Internet. The children were Rhonda Shelly, 3 (from left), Kathy Macool, 7, Lisa Shelly, 5, Chris Macool, 9, and Robert Shelly, 6.

About 10 days ago, we posted a story about an almost 40 year-old photo that was taken by Joseph Crachiola. A former news photographer in the Detroit suburb of Mount Clemens, Mich., Crachiola had happened upon five children playing not far from his newsroom at the Macomb Daily and shot the above photo.

Crachiola posted the photo on Facebook, because it seemed like balm for the anger many people had over the recent acquittal of Florida resident George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and it struck a chord.

Facebook hits and shares immediately skyrocketed. My Code Switch piece on Crachiola and the photo got tweeted and retweeted several hundred times. And the questions came pouring in: Who are those children? Where are they now? (And yes, how can I get a copy of that photo?)

So we thought we'd give you a brief update.

Joe Crachiola says he's spoken to four of the five children in his photo. Robert Shelly "is now 46 and works for the Macomb County Road Commission as a mechanic." Crachiola says they had a cordial conversation and "pretty much like everyone in the photo, he was taken aback by his newfound celebrity, but he was very upbeat about the whole thing."

Crachiola also spoke with Shelly's baby sister Rhonda (behind the shopping cart), who was also surprised that so many people were interested in the kids in the picture. She can't tell them anything though — she was barely out of toddlerhood when the photo was taken "and doesn't remember a thing about that day."

Kathy Macool now lives in Texarkana, Texas, and her brother Chris lives near Houston, in Sealy, Texas. Their family moved to Texas in 1975, and has remained there. Chris told Crachiola that when their photo appeared in the paper the day after Crachiola met them, their mom had one concern.

"She wanted to know where the shopping cart came from," the photographer says. "She was worried that they had stolen it and that they would get in trouble."

There have been a lot of calls from local media and a few national outlets. Our colleague Renee Montagne interviewed Crachiola on Morning Edition.

And several people, including one from Mumbai, India, have asked to buy the photo. It's possible and interested folks can contact Joe directly via his website.

So after more than a million Facebook views, more than 20,000 likes and over 11,000 shares, what did Joe Crachiola learn from all this? Let's let him have the last word from a post on his blog:

"This particular photograph has reaffirmed for me the power of the still image. Even before I became a professional, I was intrigued by the power of the still image and its ability to make people think. I was captivated by the idea that if I could cause even one person to see things from a different perspective then I might also be able to make the world a better place in some small way. It's good to know that even in this day and age, when we are bombarded by imagery from every direction, that one photograph can matter to someone.

"I doubt if I'll ever make another photograph as good as this one, but this one image has given me reason enough to keep trying."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Luis Clemens is NPR's senior editor for diversity. He works across the newsroom to build a broad foundation of diverse experts and sources in order to enhance NPR's news coverage.
Karen Grigsby Bates is the Senior Correspondent for Code Switch, a podcast that reports on race and ethnicity. A veteran NPR reporter, Bates covered race for the network for several years before becoming a founding member of the Code Switch team. She is especially interested in stories about the hidden history of race in America—and in the intersection of race and culture. She oversees much of Code Switch's coverage of books by and about people of color, as well as issues of race in the publishing industry. Bates is the co-author of a best-selling etiquette book (Basic Black: Home Training for Modern Times) and two mystery novels; she is also a contributor to several anthologies of essays. She lives in Los Angeles and reports from NPR West.
More News
Support nonprofit, public service journalism you trust. Give now.