The most famous baby picture of us, (Elly and Joanne) as infant twins, is a picture of one of us in the arms of film star Marlene Dietrich.
You don’t know which baby Marlene Dietrich is holding? Neither do I. The baby is either me, Elly, or my identical twin sister Joanne. We were ONE baby in a film, switched off, one for the other at the convenience of the film director because we looked exactly alike. And in the photo of four year old girl twins? I don’t know who is who in that photo either. We look so much alike even our mother couldn’t tell us apart sometimes.
What do these memories of being a twin have to do with writing for children? I’m writing a story called “Chocolate or Tomatoes” about my own experience as an identical twin: a picture book for children age 4-8. Below are a few of the photos that help me remember what it felt like to look so identical and to feel separate and different from each other at the same time. In the story I’m writing now, we fight, we cooperate, we trick people who can’t tell us apart and yet we also struggle to be our own separate selves.
Below is a photo c. 1956 left to right: Elly, younger sister Barbara, Joanne, Marjorie, our mother.
(Elly and Joanne, Brewster MA c. 1968) Elly is on the left and Joanne is on the right: Joanne is a photographer. To learn more about Elly, see EllyRubinJournal You can see more about Joanne’s life and her photographs by checking the the links below. (The third link, A Life in Pictures, is a 10 minute film)
(left) Joanne with camera (right) Elly with her twins in photo by Joanne c. 1970