Thelma & Hilda: A 50-Year-Old Friendship

Thelma Tawil (left) and Hilda Iza gossip at the Middle Eastern Cultural Festival held at St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church in Syracuse, N.Y.

I photographed Thelma and Hilda during what Newhouse, the public communications school within Syracuse University, likes to call “boot camp” for incoming master’s students. Think a six-week series of miniature panic and heart attacks. At least that’s what it was for me. Rewarding? Immensely.

“I may be old and look like a monkey, but I look good. My daughter comes by every week or so, and we go get our nails done. It’s our guilty pleasure,” says Thelma.
“It’s important to feel like a lady,” says Thelma.
“I haven’t danced with any men since my husband died, but I still like to look pretty for me,” says Hilda.
Hilda and Thelma say their goodbyes. They do not know when they will be able to chat again since neither can drive any more.
Thelma watches Hilda go.
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