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  • David Bernhart

Look, Yeah, But Don't Touch

Say hello to Freelove Ann Elizabeth Blessing, my great-great-grandmother on my mom's side:



With a name like Freelove Blessing, she could have been raised in a West Coast hippie commune. But she was born in 1829, died in 1901 and lived her entire life in rural Virginia.


I became acquainted with this photograph, on display in the home of an older cousin, when I was a teenager and always on alert for pictures of attractive women. At the time it was taken, a photo such as this was considered almost pornographic. I'll be forever grateful that the photographer got Freelove to loosen up for the shot. Believe it or not, she was usually rather buttoned-down.

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