Back when Don Ray was 19, he posed for a photo, which he just posted on Facebook with this comment: "In case I ever decide to run for office, I thought I'd better release this 1968 photo and explain before my opponents find it and make a big deal out of it. OK (breathe, relax, focus, Don Ray), here goes. I wanted to make a photo of me with no clothes on while I was holding a guitar. I'm so glad that I got this off my chest. I hope it covers everything and doesn't strike a bad chord with you. I've bared my soul and I'm ready for the snide remarks that will likely strip me of my dignity. You'll note that my G-string is properly in place."
Yup, it got our attention. We contacted the now 64-year-old Ray in his Burbank, California home and asked him for the back story. Ray, a semi-retired investigative journalist, is involved in a media history project. He wants to preserve media from the past and frequently stumbles upon photos that at first glance appear to sum up an era -- including this one.
When it was shot in 1968, Ray was stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia and about to ship out to Vietnam. He says that when young people see the photo today, they assume he was a pretty cool guy back then -- when, in fact, being part of the military in an unpopular war caused him to feel the polar opposite.
"Younger people today don't realize that back then, everyone else had long hair and was a hippie. I was probably the most uncool guy out there," he said.
And no, he's not really running for office. His endangered history project is committed to the preservation of all forms of media, he said, "anything at risk of vanishing."
As for old photos that might embarrass us if discovered by an opponent, well, readers, got any?