Photographer's 1973 image gains worldwide attention through Facebook

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. (WXYZ) - We know how many words a picture is worth. But how many "shares" can a striking image inspire on Facebook? A local photographer learned just how many through a decades old image that continues to spread childhood joy. 

It was a moment captured 40 years ago in Mount Clemens. And now through the power of social media, it's a moment rediscovered, and a story retold.

You can't help smiling back at the photo of the five smiling children. It's why retired Macomb Daily photographer Joe Crachiola shared the decades old image on Facebook. He never imagined the world would be smiling back with him.

"Just the pure joy, the innocence," said Crachiola, describing his favorite aspects of the photo, "The spontaneity of it. It just comes down to that."

As his young subjects now receive some extra face time thanks to Facebook, the photographer is in the process of locating the kids and planning a reunion.

"Now I have a real good understanding of what they mean when they talk about things going viral." said Crachiola.

"We had seen this guy with a camera." recalled Robert Shelly, one of the young subjects of the photo, "And we stopped, went over there and told him to take pictures of us."

Cherry Street in Mount Clemens has changed quite a bit since Shelly called it home. As the boy standing on the far right, embracing a friend, Shelly has garnered some newfound celebrity status in the old neighborhood. But more than the limelight, Shelly says the photo is a great reminder of a childhood full of joy and far from prejudice.

"[Those kids] could have been green, purple, yellow, it doesn't matter to me." said Shelly, "I love everybody."

Shelly and his two siblings still live in Michigan. Crachiola says the two other children live in Texas.

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