When I bought this photo, I assumed, because it appears to be taken in a photobooth, that it would be the normal 'thumbnail' size of photobooth pictures: I didn't mind that. So I was delighted to discover when it arrived today that it is actually nearly 5" x 4" and more wonderfully still has a whole short story on the back.
"J. W. Lindley and I - taken in Frisco, Feb22, 1943 - Growth: 2m. 4days (Dec 18, '42)" and goes on to say it was taken on their return from the South Pacific. If that's not a short story in its own right then it's got to be the beginning of one... or the end!
UPDATE: Well I'm so glad you are all enjoying this photograph as much as I am and thank you for pointing out the typo - now corrected - which made it seem as though the author of the note on the back was claiming he'd grown that beard in two and half days! But thank you in particular to Brendan for going above and beyond the call of duty and, because I know that not everyone worries about reading the comments on a blog as well as the post I'm elevating Brendan's sterling research from the comments to here:
"This is a great photo! I just had to dig into the history a little. J.W. Lindley appears on the muster rolls of the USS Hercules, a supply ship and troop transport which sailed to Noumea, New Caledonia, in Dec 1942, returning to San Francisco 20 Feb, 1943.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Hercules_%28AK-41%29
His full name was Jesse Wood Lindley, Jr., but he appears to have gone by simply "J.W." in the census and military records, so that's probably what he preferred to be called. I'll bet it helped differentiate himself from his dad. J.W. was born in Texas in December 1923, lived in Houston, and joined the navy on June 27, 1942 at the age of 18. He survived the war, surviving a Japanese attack on the Hercules near Saipan, and was discharged in 1947. He died in 1996."
Thank you so very much for your interest and for taking the trouble Brendan: and to all the commenters...