A Photo Leads the Way to Marriage

A street scene in Vienna, Austria, 1949. Photo by Mark McCormick.

For most amateur photographers, loved ones are a common subject.  For Experiment alumnus Mark McCormick, it took 16 years and a chance encounter half a world away to discover that the anonymous subject in one of his photographs taken on the Experiment was the love of his life.

McCormick traveled with the Experiment to Germany in the summer of 1949. Like many Experimenters, he captured the experience through photographs of Germany and the surrounding countries.

McCormick kept many of those photographs in a trunk that accompanied him on his frequent travels around the globe.

After the Experiment, McCormick spent over a decade working for the US military before moving to Buenos Aires to work for the Argentina subsidiary of Ford. Upon arrival in Argentina, he placed an ad the local German language newspaper in hopes of securing living quarters where he could also practice his German.

The rest of the story is best told in McCormick’s own words.

A couple of weeks after moving in I had learned that my host family were Viennese – a woman my age and her mother. Both had come to Argentina since the war, and I was shortly to have some pleasant conversations with this interesting lady.

After learning that she had worked for the French Occupation Headquarters in their zone of Vienna, specifically for the French officer in charge of civil affairs as his secretary by virtue of her knowledge of the language…It was in one of those chats that I went to my trunk and took out some photos I had taken in Vienna – just 16 years earlier.

A painting of Ari Gyongy by Mark McCormick.

She soon discovered one – a street scene in the western part of Vienna she knew quite well. The street scene included many people, but in the very center, just about to arrive where I was taking that picture, was a woman in a white coat and rather distinctive other clothing and some sort of grip or briefcase. She examined that figure instantly.

Yes, it was the woman I was talking to, the woman who rented me the room!

Here I have her picture I painted, in 1968, a year after our marriage in Buenos Aires.

Read more of McCormick’s handwritten notes about meeting his wife Aranka Gyongy and see his Experiment photographs on our flickr page.

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