While shopping at Paper Source in San Jose, Calif., Terry Clavelli saw her mother’s face peering out innocently from our She could see no good reason to act her age notecard. Terry had never seen that particular photo, or her mother’s hair done that way, but she immediately recognized her mother’s expression and beautiful doe eyes.
Her mother, Joan Walsh, passed away in 1990, much too young at the age of 65. Terry says, “She was a wonderful, devoted mom, and ironically always acted her age.” Terry’s own daughters were just 3 and 7 years old at the time, “and they just idolized her,” she adds.
A John Powers model in Manhattan in the early 1940s, Joan was a diminutive woman of 5’ 2”, as was her mother, who was scarcely 5 feet tall. Joan, her mother and sister – all beautiful and petite – worked as face models to help support themselves during a difficult period. Joan eventually left modeling to work for The Manhattan Project. The family moved to California in the late 1940s, where Joan worked as a bookkeeper at Glen Glenn Studios (where she often saw Lucille Ball, since the music for “I Love Lucy” was recorded there!). Joan met her future husband in Los Angeles, and they married and made their home in the Bay area. They adopted two girls and Joan became a devoted mother and homemaker the rest of her life.
“My mother was so gorgeous, yet deeply modest. She played down her modeling days her whole life. For Mom, it was all about her family, and education meant everything to her; she wanted the best schooling for us, no matter what. She always took care of everyone else first.”
Acknowledging that her mother probably wouldn’t be comfortable with all this attention, Terry says, “Seeing my mother’s face on that card…it is so not her, but it’s so wonderful to see Mom ‘glorified’ like that. If she were alive, she might be a little embarrassed. I’m glad she has no choice. She looks so happy, and in a way Anne is liberating her.” Terry adds, “It’s been a fun experience for my whole family.”