SHEENA BARNETT: Necklace a lovely imitation of life

By Sheena Barnett / NEMS Daily Journal

I have this necklace. The pendant is a silver circle frame, featuring a black and white photo of a man and woman.
He’s wearing a three-piece suit and a hat. Her dress is masked by a smart jacket and hat, with one side dipping over her right eye. He looks like he could be a mobster; she looks like she could hold her own. It could be 1945 or 1950.
At the bottom of the picture, the jewelry-maker glued the word “true,” and then, on a silver key dangling from the frame, she glued the word “love.”
When I wear this necklace, a lot of people ask me if the man and woman are my grandparents.
No, I say, they are other people entirely.
They’re Tom and Maxine. “Maxie,” as Tom called her.
They were from Muscle Shoals. They were in love.
For Tommy and Maxine, the world was full of strangers. Only they truly and completely understood each other.
A lot of people liked Tom and Maxine, but, for whatever reason, no one really liked them together.
When Maxine was 28 and Tommy was 26, the pair left Muscle Shoals.
They never said why, or where they were going. They just left.
Sixty years later, they returned to the town, just as quietly as they left. Growing weaker by the day, the pair moved into a nursing home.
When folks asked them where they’d gone when they left that spring day, so many decades earlier, the couple would trade knowing smiles. Maxine would look down at her hands.
“Oh,” Tommy would say, looking off into the distance, “we were just out, living our lives together.”
Some say Maxine’s hearing was bad because of all of her years spent singing in loud, rowdy bars. It made sense; after all, she was always singing along with her radio.
Some say Tom’s hands had developed arthritis after years of drawing cartoons for newspapers.
It was all pure speculation, and those were the mildest of the stories spread.
Tom and Maxine’s secrets died with them.
A nurse tending to Maxine says the old woman said, “I’ll be right back, Tommy,” just before she passed. Another nurse says Tom’s last words were, “Hey, Maxie,” said with a grin.
Tom and Maxine never mentioned any children, so no one was left to clear the mystery. All they left behind were Maxine’s hat, worn but still stylish; Tom’s stained handkerchief; and a photograph of the couple taken right before they left their hometown for adventure.
OK, confession time.
I just made all of that up.
I really have no clue as to the identities of the man and woman in the picture. I bought the necklace several years ago at the GumTree Festival. The woman who made the necklace said she bought old photographs at yard sales and turned them into jewelry.
This simple, yet elegant, photo inspired this woman to create a necklace, which, in turn, inspired me to weave my yarn about the photograph.
It’s your turn.
Where will this take you?

Contact Daily Journal writer Sheena Barnett at (662) 678-1580 or Also read her entertainment blog, Scene Now, at

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