Hello fellow history lovers! The end of September brought with it a bit of late summer, with warm, sunny days and cool evenings! I spent time this week preparing my kindling for the winter heating season, which will get here soon enough. Pretty soon these warm days will be replaced by a warm seat near a hot wood stove.
Today's photos from the Belcher album, which we are nearly through, are nice reminders of a much simpler time, but also reminders of one thing that frustrates historians - unidentified photos! Sometimes we might be able to identify a location from hints in a photo, and on a rare occasion, someone might recognize an ancestor and from there we might be able to identify other people in a photo. Perhaps someone out there might surprise me with a name or two, so here goes!
The first photo is one full of style and surprises too. Two older men, looking a bit long in the tooth, stand to the right of a much younger group of people. All of them appear to be dressed in their "Sunday best" for this photo. The girls have on their prettiest dresses and except for one who looks like she can't wait for this to get over with, offer slight smiles. The young boy in the high stockings, knickers and ruffled top seems to be at least tolerating the photo session. But my two favorites are the men on the right, the grizzled old gentleman in the stovetop hat and pants that may never, ever come clean, and the man on the far right who sports a very Captain Ahab looking wooden leg! One would wonder if he was a Civil War veteran who suffered a devastating injury. One name that does come to mind, suggested many years ago by Kippy Grant, is that he might be Ellie Gibbs, who had such a wooden leg, but that has yet to be verified, if indeed it can.
The second portrait is very different. It depicts a local woman, perhaps a family member, in front of a grapevine with a basket of freshly picked grapes. In contrast to the previous photo, she appears to be genuinely pleased to have her picture taken, and her relaxed smile adds to the sweet mystery of who she is. A close look at her face reveals a ruddy complexion, perhaps from years of working outdoors in all kinds of weather as she planted, and later, harvested crops. Her clothing is well-suited to her needs with layered dresses and petticoats and a shawl to keep her warm, and a brimmed bonnet to protect her from sun exposure. And then there are the grapes - for jelly, or for wine? Clearly, her work is not done, although I am grateful that she lives on, albeit anonymously, caught in a moment of time for us to reflect on.
Wishing you health as we continue to work our way through these more complicated times,
Curator: Frank Meninno