I love antique photos. You can learn so much about how things have changed, and again how little has. We inherited 3 trunks of photos from the late 1800's to the 1940s and 50's. Most came from an enigmatic, extremely hard working but photo-loving woman named Lena, an ancestor of my husband, born in 1879. She had more contacts, more postcards (several hundreds) and more photos of herself taken than anyone who is not a well know celebrity. She seems to have collected antique photos from all around her. She unfortunately didn't identify many, only writing "Lena" on many given to her. I think she assumed she would remember, and of course after that it wouldn't matter!

We are still sorting through all the stuff trying to piece together Lena's fascinating and sometimes tragic life. Meanwhile, here are a variety of photos, including some of the highest (and lowest!) fashion.

I have also included the very old family photos I have from my mom's side of the family.

I hope you enjoy, and thank you for visiting my blog.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Antique Photos of Beautiful Women, and...beautiful bathing suits?

In the photos our (extended) family has inherited, I've run across a few of incredibly beautiful women: beautiful in any century. I would like you to see these.

And I have to show the photo of what was the "latest" in bathing suits.  I can't call them beautiful, or elegant, but maybe...useful?

Thanks for visiting my blog!  Chris

Monday, October 25, 2010


I've been remiss in posting to this blog, working on my jewelry for Christmas and a craft sale. But I'm raring to go, with three new blog subjects prepared for the next three weeks or so.

I have 4 photos of horse drawn carriages to present to you today.  The first, above  is from the early 1900's and the  two  little girls look just adorable sitting in the carriage.

 The next photo has  Lena (from whom a huge number of our photos came, passed down through later family members) with some friends.  The photo is probably from about 1915.  Lena is second from the left.

 I've used this photo in other posts, but it fits here too. This is Lena in about 1907 with her little boy Colon. I'm not sure who the man is. Her husband Charles died shortly after Colon was born.

I'm not sure who the couple in this last photo were; but Lena sent several pictures of them down through the ages to us, so they may also be our relatives.

I just had to include this last picture:

The picture is from 1913
Thank you for visiting my blog.  Chris

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The (temporarily) Well Dressed Young Man; and a dog who needs dressing up!

Have you noticed that in old photos, the dressed up boys look, well, really  dressed up. The photos always make me want to see the kid in "real clothes."

I'm bringing 5 examples of this today from our cache of antique photos. I welcome your comments or other examples.

The first is an obviously  quite old photo; no identification came with it.  The poor kid looks dazed. Probably the photographing took a long time. What he doesn't look is comfortable, although I suspect his outfit looked much less wrinkled when it was first introduced to him.

The next photo is from about 1893. If anyone knows what the decorative objects by his boots are, I'd be beholden! Are they spats, or the tops of boots? I have no idea, even after having blown up the picture.

The next picture is from about 1912. The poor boy does NOT look comfortable or natural in his outfit. But the purpose is accomplished: he does look "spiffy," which was the idea!

Now the next young man looks like a dandy in the making: he makes the clothes look great, and he looks as if he could always dress like that!

The final "boy" photo is dated 1930; somehow, the clothing just doesn't look right. For one thing, it doesn't fit well.  The hat, and bow tie don't go together with the rest of the suit. The pencil in his pocket may be useful, but it doesn't do much for his outfit . He does not look pleased to be the subject of the photographer's creative processes.

This next picture presents a young male who could certainly use a little cleaning up!:

Thank you for visiting my blog!  Chris.

Monday, September 6, 2010

MISSOURI LEAD MINERS; and a Funny Picture

                       (click on the photos to enlarge them)

My husband's  (Craig's) family came from Corry, Missouri: now a tiny spot in the road, but in the late 1800s and early 1900s a booming mining town for small surface lead and silicate mines.  A man could start a mine operation with a pick axe, shovel, windlass, wheelbarrow and rope.  Whole families, kids included, worked with the mines.

    Large lead mining has been and continues to be a major industry in Missouri; generally the mining is in tunnels and large refineries are closely associated. In Corry, the mining was surface or shallow mining, but  smelters were built nearby built to process the lead and silicate. Lead permeates the land--and water there. Craig's grandmother told him the water tasted wonderfully sweet, due to the lead. Of course, the long term effects of the lead and silicate in the water and dust affected everyone. Even now, Missouri's children have the highest blood lead levels in the U.S.   Craig's family in Missouri  had a long, very heavy  history of strokes.  I did some reading on lead exposure; those with long term high levels of lead have a 350% higher rate of strokes than anyone else. Symptoms resembling  alzheimer's was another problem, and his grandmother was diagnosed with severe alzheimer's syndrome.

  I find it hard to imagine the incredibly hard work done by these people. They didn't have tractors,  only mules. They didn't use any protective equipment, not even the hard hats used by the coal miners. Certainly not masks or gloves. The pictures, especially this next one, bring home to me the reality of the life these miners faced. (Besides, some of them were my husband's relatives!):

 Now on to happier (I think!) subject, but not apparently for the mom and kid.  This following picture just tickles my funny bone.

Thanks for visiting my blog!  Chris

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Antique Automobiles

O.k., per request, I'm going to post some of  the antique auto pictures from our Six family photo collection now, and others in another post. They're not exactly in order, and I know next to nothing, or less about autos, so its up to you to identify them, but here you are.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Awkward Antique Family Photos

I've looked at the "awkward family photos" sites on line. Some of them are funny, or even hilarious. Some just don't seem funny to me (I'm not into slapstick comedy.) But I do enjoy looking at photos of groups of people. One can see a lot by where and how they stand in relation to others; posture, attitude and facial expression.

I am presenting 4 photos from our family's antique photograph collection, which I found very interesting or enigmatic for various reasons. I'll be curious to hear what you think.

The above photo is obviously quite old, before 1900. What piqued my interest is the woman's clothing, especially the head wrapping; and what she's holding on to.  Also she is wearing gloves, which I've rarely seen in these old photos.  Finally, I'm partial to the kid in front. His expression is a little clueless but he looks like a friendly, neat person.

This above photo is interesting for the people and dress, although it obviously isn't as old as the first picture. I'm really interested in why the lady is wearing a headband.  Makes me think of the 1960's and hippie life, but I'm sure this headband has a quite different meaning. I just have no idea what.
This third photo is fascinating to me for several reasons. First, I have no idea why some of the women are wearing the headscarves. I know that this photo was taken in the U.S., as I recognize two of the women from other photos. The sitting woman second from the left, and the woman right above her, are Smith sisters, related to Charles, Lena's husband who died so young (see my first few posts in this blog). This means the photo is probably from about 1910 to 1915.  I also see a lot of  details in the dresses, which are homemade; and some of the faces and expressions I find fascinating.
There are a couple of surprises in this photo I'll let you find; and the people (I didn't see the woman for a  while) have the most interesting faces and expressions --and relations to each other.  This may be a mining group, since so many of the family photos were of mining; I can't tell, but there is certainly a variety of people composing the group. A group dynamics specialist would have a ball!

I have a request to show some of the family's  antique autos for the next post. I have quite a few photos; however I can't tell a Model A from a Ford (or are they the same thing?) so I'll  be presenting the photos with dates when I have them but won't try to identify the autos. I'd love your comments and identifications.

Thanks for visiting my blog.  Chris

My other, new blog, is Resin and Pressed Flowers:


Monday, August 16, 2010

My Home is My Castle

Today I thought I'd share some antique "our home" photos.  One's definition of home can vary greatly:  "my home is where my hat is hung"," my home is where my heart is,", etc. Once,  while living in a foreign country, at a time and place where I had no privacy at all, I called my sleeping bag my home. It was the only place not shared by a zillion kids, chickens, dogs and neighbors.I do admit, I did have guests: fleas; but they at least didn't natter in my ear!  It worked for me.

The first two photos are from around 1900. Most likely they were built with the help of neighbors, as was usual.  Both photos pique my curiosity about the people shown, and about what the inside of the houses look like.

 Next, an interesting photo of what I believe are some houses from around 1900 in Braintree, Massachusetts.   The lighthouse itself is very pretty,  but what was so rarely seen then, and even more rarely now, are the windmill pumps above the two houses, and the watertowers behind. Plus I find the people in this photo interesting: the little girl in a bonnet in the left foreground, the two people on the big-wheeled bicycles, the two men shaking hands. The photo kind of looks like an advertisement for a "perfect" neighborhood in which to buy your house; and yet there are so many things subtly different from today. (don't forget, you can click on the photos to enlarge them.)

For the next photo I have no date, but the man looks so enthusiastic about finishing his cabin, I just liked it:

The final photo is from the 1930's. This place really looks small, and has no roof (except for the tent) but for all that, they have made it home.
 Thank you for visiting.  Chris



Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A disgruntled cat and two strange photos

We're still going through scads of photos. I bought a box of 100 4/page postcard album pages, which I thought would be enough for Lena's antique photo collection: no way!  I got about half way through and ran out of space, and these are only the postcards with messages on the back, not the blank ones!  To my poor math brain this means there are over  800 postcards.

Interesting news, I was looking up values of antique postcards; it turns out we have a few that are probably worth quite a bit of money, due to their subject (one, a very early photo of an old black farmer, another, a 1910 Thanksgiving card, for instance).

Craig is still scanning in old photos.  He'll say he has "about reached the end" then, surprise, he finds another bunch, often including some really antique interesting ones.  I'm glad he has the patience for all that scanning (and fade correcting and filing and categorizing ...!)

Well, today I'm presenting a photo of an obviously unhappy cat; and two rather  unusual  but unrelated photos;

This next photo is of a crooked house. At first I just thought the photo was wonky--but the ground underneath is even; the supports under the right side are longer than on the left; the step vertical supports are uneven. Strange, but I think it's real.  Any comments are welcome.

The next photo is, I assume, an engagement picture. Between the rather unusual-looking moon (kind of sappy, at best) and the lady's long hair, I find this 1911 photos one of the weirdest in our possession.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The (In)dignity of Age--and a fun photo

When I was a kid, I saw my grandparents as OLD! After all, they had wrinkles and gray hair. As I got older, I began to appreciate my elders'
experience and wisdom--a little! Now that I'm in my 60's, I'm astonished looking back at pictures of them and realizing that I'm now older than they were at the time. Kind of scary.

The  assumptions about the elderly, actually the very definitions,  have changed a lot in the last 50 years. When I was growing up, people were labeled elderly in their 50's, and women were expected to "act their age," i.e. to wear dark frowzy clothes, stay at home more, and gradually lose their  mental facilities (this in spite of the fact that my grandmother was an active tax consultant until into her 90's!) The women were expected to act "grandmotherly"--that is, they should babysit as much as possible, cook for everyone whenever asked, always be cheerful and motherly, always have gifts for the kids, and of course be self sufficient!  Our grandfathers were to be objects of admiration for "how great that they can still hold a job if they want to," (not considering they had to live somehow--there wasn't any social security  then.)

  Nowadays we aren't too surprised to see a  90 year old woman climbing Mount Everest, or 100 year old people still living on their own.  We are sometimes  surprised  that a person in her/his 50's has retired; we ask "don't you get bored?" and often find that person retired from one job just to take on another just to meet expenses; no time or energy for boredom.

In looking at all of the old letters and photos we have from the late 1800s and the early 1900,  I have come to  realize that no one (except for the very well off) stopped  working until he or she literally dropped from exhaustion. The alternative was the almshouse, or poorhouse, established in the 1700s in the States to take care of (or keep from delicate eyes) those sick, aged, mentally ill, physically challenged, or just plain undesirable people for whom there was nowhere else to go. By the early 1900s, the almshouse sheltered mostly the elderly and severely physically, as insane asylums and orphanages were established.

Almshouses, renamed the more socially acceptable "county homes" in the 1900s, existed until social security got fully underway in the 1950's and 1960's.(Social Security was established to get rid of almshouses: by giving the elderly a stipend they would be able to live on their own. Obviously, someone didn't do their math homework!)

  I worked in a county hospital in the early 60's that had some residents in the long-term section who had been there for 30 to 40 years. Some had polio, or rheumatoid arthritis.Some had just gotten older and unable to fully care for themselves. None had family who cared for them and none had any income. There were also quite a few elderly who had been stuck in the long term psych facility, labeled as demented, just for somewhere to put them.

Perhaps this blog is mislabeled: even now, the biggest fight for the elderly and disabled is to keep their dignity and their independence. I for one am terrified of a time when I might have to go to a "nursing home" where, at the best I will no longer have my privacy and independence, and at the worst, will be in the modern but equally undesirable almshouse

 However, I'm including some interesting old pictures of elderly from our antecedents:

 Finally, I have to throw in one fun photo--no dignity involved, although the kid obviously doesn't care:
Thank you for visiting my blog.  Chris