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, July 27, 2010

My Favorite Photo; and Wasp Waisted Women

 This first photo is fun. It reminds me of David and Goliath. The child looks so small and demur next to that huge auto!

The next  photo shows a lady with a naturally small waist. She was a maid and housekeeper at Napa Mental Hospital around 1906, and was a friend of Lena (see the earliest blog posts). 

The second photo demonstrates how the corset could artificially produce a tiny waist.

  The corset was worn continuously from the 1600s to the 1960's by most ladies aspiring to women's own dictates regarding  the Well Dressed Lady. If worn correctly, the corset was  supposed to produce a waist the size of which a man could enclose with his two hands.
   Women (generally seamstresses) actually designed and sewed  most of the corsets themselves. The dowagers and mavens of high society enforced the definition of the successful lady in those circles, which included a tightly laced corset. Doctors and other outspoken gentlemen generally decried the use of corsets, but for a misogynist reason: they felt that women would be able to produce fewer children if their "womb was pressed upon." Since churning out babies was considered the female's primary task, and value, one can find a lot of literature objecting to corsets, especially during the Victorian era.

    Those women who succumbed to society's dictates certainly experienced some major physical problems. Fainting and shortness of breath were inevitable, considering how tightly the corsets were laced.  Stomach and bowel problems were constant, given the much diminished internal space allowed for those organs. All this contributed to men's admonishments against corsets, and contrarily  made women who wore them seem more "delicate," which was valued by the male sex as it made them feel more masculine in comparison.

Thank you for visiting my blog. Chris

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Today I'm presenting 5 pictures of young siblings, two fun and three a bit more serious.

The first is from the early 1900's, but I don't know the exact date. The pants of the child on the left are, I believe, leather, and of an interesting cut. I love the interaction of the two kids. I think he's giving her a drink from a cup of something.

The next picture shows two brothers, from the very early 1900's. The boy's shirts are interesting in the exquisite detailing.  There is a handkerchief in each boy's pocket I would love to see.  The picture is sad because the boy on the left is obviously very ill.

The third picture is sweet.  It shows an older brother giving his younger brother a kiss.  I'd like to meet their barber--to give him/her a piece of my mind! (although it probably was their mom or dad.)
The next picture presents two young girls; this picture is pre-1900.  The look in the younger child's eyes is wonderful.  Their dresses are identical in design, and very pretty. Their shoes, however, don't look very comfortable. I remember Buster Brown's when I was a kid--they took forever to wear in, and just about the time, after a month or two, that they finally got comfortable, along came another pair to break me in! The girls' shoes look broken in but I'll bet they were miserable when first worn.

  As an aside, do those of you who are over 50 remember why we weren't allowed to wear patent leather shoes when we were young?  We were told that boys might be able to see up our dresses by reflection from the shiny leather.  I remember that some of the teachers were quite insistent that they shouldn't be worn.  It was fine with me. They weren't any more comfortable than the Buster Browns!

The final picture is of three very tired kids. I imagine they had been in front of the camera for quite a while.  The littlest one has an ominous frown which foretells real trouble if this doesn't end soon!. And if  anyone can tell me what that ribbon and ?tag?  around her neck is for, I'd love to know.

I hope you enjoyed these pictures  as much as I did.  Thanks you for  visiting my blog!  Chris

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fascinating antique children's photos

All of us who have raised kids, or have children as close family members, probably have dozens of pictures of the kids. The photos mean a lot, and we can look at them over and over.  Generally, however, photos of other peoples kids are "nice" and we ooh and aah over them, but we don't find them as compelling as those of our own.

  In Lena's collection of antique and old photos there are quite a number of cute  photos of kids. A few stood out, in that they are interesting to look at all on their own.  Today I'm presenting 4 of these.  For the first I have no date or name but it came with some other photos which  were from the 1870's.

 This photo attracted my attention for the unusual dress and hairdo of the little girl, and the barely posed setting. Plus there's just a look in both of the children's eyes which makes me want to know them more--and to give them a hug.

The next photos is of  a little girl named Katy Pearl: The photo is from the 1890;s. This kid has a mischievous look in her eyes that shows kids from any age can mean BIG TROUBLE! 

The third photos is from a little girl named Zelpha, from about 1895. She was a first cousin of Lena (see early posts)  She, in turn,  looks older than her 6 years of age. She has this worldly, knowing  look about her that I find quite strange.

The final photo is of Leta, Lena's sister.

I love this photo, which is from the about 1899. Her dress is of a style I haven't seen often, and her legs and feet look like those of a small doll! And she is just plain cute!
  Thank you for visiting my blog.  Comments and suggestions are welcome!   Chris

Thursday, July 15, 2010

3 Antique Dolls

We recently found a very old picture of a child with a doll. It has a name on the back so we are able to place a  date of  approximately 1868. The picture is wonderful, as  the details are very clear:
I'm hoping to so some research into  children's clothing  and dolls of this period
The next photo has been on this blog before; I am posting it this time because it is also quite old, dating from about 1880.It is from a tintype. The doll isn't quite as visible but it is still interesting obviously well loved.  The child is Lena (see early posts).

The next photo we aren't able to identify in any way. It was in with Lena's photos.:

The final photo is of Colon's teddy bear (Colon was Lena's son) dating about 1904:

 I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do!  Chris

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Two Fascinating Photos of the Past

There are a few of the hundreds of antique photos we inherited which just fascinate me. I will be featuring them in some of the coming posts. They are of an extremely mixed bag, but all are without exception good, i.e. eminently viewable, photos; and something about each one pricks my imagination. I find myself going back time after time to look and wonder about the subject/s. 

Today, I'm presenting a photo of some laborers, probably miners:

The second person from the right piques my curiosity the most, but there are so many aspects of this photo that I find interesting; I'll let you decide for yourselves.

The next is Rosa, a friend of Lena.  This is the full photo of the lady featured in the "hats" blog:

I welcome your comments on these photos and I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!  Chris

Monday, July 12, 2010

TheThe Hard 1930's; One Family's Experience, photos and letter

The times from the 1920's to the beginning of WW 2 had major impacts on most people in the U.S., and indeed, because of the world-wide Depression, 1928 through 1930, in most countries in world. In the states hundreds of thousands of small farmers and people from all walks of life lost their jobs and became migrants. The great majority went west, where they often didn't find anything better.  John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath" offers perhaps the best known picture of migrant life at that time. (In an interesting aside, before 20th Century Fox hired detectives to check the accuracy of Steinbeck's portrayal of life in the migrant camps,  The report: conditions were even worse than Steinbeck had suggested.)

  My husband's grandparents (on his mom's side), Pearl and Earle Yorton, were living in Fairfield, California, where Earl(grandfather) was a butcher. But life was already getting harder, and they had 3 young kids.  They headed up to Climax, Oregon due to a job offer of work in a small lumber mill from Pearl's sister. Earle's brother, Glenn was with them. The trip must have been long and hard. There were no freeways; the truck broke down frequently; no AAA's to call to fix things  nor any phones available for that matter. Three young kids to feed and keep entertained.No money to stop at inns along the way.

    Climax was, and is even now, a tiny extremely isolated community in Southern Oregon. At that time there may have been 10 to 15 families; no electricity ; hand pumped water.  Roads impassable in winter for trucks and for the horse teams used for timber work. Even today the road up to Climax is long, winding, partially  unpaved, and impassable in bad weather.

They traveled in an old truck, pulling a cart full of belongings. Timing was terrible; when they arrived in Climax it was winter and the mill was closed. Pearl and the kids and Glenn stayed in Climax , and Earle went down into the valley, Eagle Point, to work on a ranch there.
This is when things got really bad.  Pearl and Glenn and the kids lived in a small previously abandoned house on a dry hill plentiful with rattlesnakes.The story was passed down to Craig of how she killed a huge rattlesnake with a shovel, left all but the head on a stump; came back in a couple of days and all that was left was the skin, the rest having been consumed by insects.  She was terrified one of the kids would be bitten by a snake.
    In the following letter, from Pearl to Earle( who was stuck working down on the ranch,) Pearl talks about the severe poverty and conditions she was experiencing.

     Same Old Hole
        Jan 22&28
Daddy Dear:-
    I'll write you so that Glenn can take it down for Sam to mail tomorrow.  He was here for a while today but didn't stay long enough for me to get all my business stuff fixed up for mail day, so his coming back tomorrow for my letters. He brought us a piece of bacon and a half gallon of milk. Sure was welcome addition to the grub situation.  Floyd came and took the cow away Friday, so little Ted has had poor "pickings" lately.  We cooked our last mess of beans for dinner today.  Glenn put in a slice of bacon in 'em for seasoning; and I fried some more and made gravy and he had dinner with us.
    Well the check from the tanning company came at last and it was for $11.16!! Gee I sure was surprised. They had the weight of the 3 sacks as being  279 lb.  It was no wonder you had a time carrying them over when they averaged 93 lbs apiece!!  Well we will have a dollar or two left over after the car license is paid for and the postage is taken out.  Glen came first and didn’t have the letter a few minutes after he got here, here came the three C. boys with the Albany letter and a note from the B. saying she had overlooked the Albany letter last night and hoped we had got a good price for the grape root as she wanted the money right away--$4.28.  We, Glenn and I, saw where the letter had been opened and sealed up again. So that old gag of “overlooking” don’t go.  Well I am going to have Sam give her the postage Tuesday and then we will be  quit forever.  This crooked work is the last straw.Well, honey, what are you doing!  I hope you aren’t working too hard.  I did quite a big washing yesterday as the wind was blowing in the morning and I took it would dry.  But darned if it didn’t begin snowing about 2:0’clock and snowed over an inch last night.  Well anyway I got your shirt all washed and ironed and ready to send down to you.  Oh! Honey! I miss you so and the kiddies are always talking about you and wishing you were here.  You will hurry up and get us away from here soon, won’t you dear?  Glen said Sam said you could use his team any time you want to move.  Isn’t that fine?  It can’t be too soon to suit me.  It wasn’t quite so bad when you were here, but since you are gone, and the snow and no sun for the children to play in it just is unbearable.  Well I know you’ll do your best so that is enough of that.
 Glenn had a letter from Leone Thurs, and she enclosed a note to Marine.  She wants to write to her.  She said that Howard King had joined the Navy and that Helen are living in Dell’s house in the orchard.  She says that Merlyn is playing for dances with the Harmony Four.  She says that she & George are going to leave there the middle of March.  I wonder, ha ha. I’m baking bread today. Got over a loaf left, but was afraid that it wouldn’t last ‘til I  could get some baked tomorrow.
 Say Daddy, where did you say you set that other big trap?  I can’t remember and I wanted to go get it so as I could give it to Glenn if we leave soon.  I had a rabbit’s foot in a trap this morning and a fat rat Fri., which the cat liked fine, ha! Ha!Well, sweetheart, I hope we will be eating“crunchies” together again soon.

Lots of love and xxx.  Sis is writing too.

post script:  Pearl and the kids were not able to leave Climax for  2 years after this letter was written.

pps, Craig, my husband, is Lena's great nephew. please see earlier blogs about Lena.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bridal Elegance and a hilarious photo

Today I'm featuring some bridal finery, some of it quite unusual. First
the above image.  I believe it's the oldest, though as usual Lena didn't put any dates or other  information on it.  In many, many of the oldest photos the guy is sitting comfortably and the poor woman is standing.   Without any other explanations needed, that shows the status of women at the time.
On the other hand, the bosom and its decorations in this photo look so heavy that she may have needed him to lean on.

In the next picture, these poor young souls look extremely unhappy. I suspect it might be a "shotgun" wedding by the groom's demeanor. The bride is lovely (and has that tiny waist!) but also doesn't look thrilled.
I'd kind of like to know if the young woman behind them is holding a pistol to each of their backs! She looks happy enough.

In the next photo  I do know who the bride is. I thought she was the guys
daughter, she looks so young.  But we have a later picture of them, him in his WWI uniform with his arm around her; she looks about 10 years older in that photo. Talk about robbing the cradle! 

Next is a 1934 bride, in what is, for us, a pretty traditional wedding gown. And she looks more like a happy bride!:

 The next picture isn't a traditional gown, but this type of wedding was seen very often in WWII. My parent's wedding picture are almost identical:

The final picture is just a hilarious rear view that was in with Lena's pictures. No identification, but no caption needed:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Poor Horsie

A cute  new photo today. This photo features a whole family of kids on a very patient horse. The little dog is obviously in control of the whole situation! Actually the picture is very old and really neat.   Enjoy! Chris

Thursday, July 8, 2010

An Irreverent Look at Early 20th Century Hats

Hats were always worn when out in public, well into at least 1960. And veils. We talk now about Muslim women wearing veils. I remember my mom, in the 40's and 50's, always wore a veil with her hat. Okay, not a thick face-covering veil like in Iran or Saudi, but a veil.

I took a look at some of the hats in the pictures that came with Lena, and got such a chuckle at a few that I decided to do a blog posting on them.

First, the most elegant one in the collection: I suspect that there is more
yardage of material in the hat than in her gown. It is beautiful, I'll admit. And probably light because of the type of material. Of course her complete outfit was handmade--with the help of sewing machines, but still! The lace around her neck is beautiful. Her glassy eyes may be due to the tightness of that very lace.

I've noticed that her hair is piled high below the hat, which makes her about a foot taller and makes her look more elegant. I could have tried for months when I was younger and never looked as good as she does. I'll admit it. She looks gorgeous!

Next, a couple of very elegant black chapeaux: elegant, but also great for
hiding a flask of Ladies Curative Tonic and a few bisquits-- or even a 5 course meal. No wonder they have a shady look in their eyes!  The hats are almost tall enough to hide a secret beau.

Now the next hat is weird.  HEY LADY, DIDN'T YOU SHAVE TODAY?
Oh, sorry, I guess those are (were?) feathers.

And the next hat.  Someone stole a beaver's tail! Some poor little beaver is having to slap the water with his paws instead.  How rude! Reminds me of those horrid stoles lots of ladies wore when I was a kid--fox, with the face intact and those damn glossy eye staring at me. Almost always in church or somewhere else where I couldn't swat it and tell it to shoo!
Now the next hat I just can't figure out. I'm including the whole photo of the lady (?) with what is supposed to be hat. Actually, I thought it was a guy but my hubby is sure it's a woman:
Last, but definitely not least, a closeup of a hat worn by a constant friend of Lena's--the fancy lady that ( in yesterday's post) is driving that fancy car.
I believe the hat still has an alive baby Ostrich on top! Perhaps the feathers underneath the brim are to catch the droppings.  Her expression is kind of "oops, what was THAT I felt!"

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Victorian take on "Menstrual Difficulties"

I thought I'd include some scans of original 1900 to 1903 ads-- the first one was the facing page to Lena's diary (see first few posts in this blog.) She, like most young women of the time, took the medical "expertise" in these adds very seriously.  Huge amounts of money and time were spent around different "doctor....'s" advice for "women's  ills.

Lena was watching her weight, and apparently wondering if her symptoms fit.

   Some add were purely INSULTING as seen from today:
Especially the word "exaggeration" shows what the author thought of the seriousness of this subject, except for the purpose of filling his wallet!
But there was little valid medical advice out there. This next ad, while not about menstruation, illustrates a problem we have today: managing the common cold.    I sometimes wonder how many people succumbed to the cure rather than the disease. I guess that unless the seller was a quick escape artist, more usually seen in the traveling tinker types, their product had to be relatively benign so he wouldn't be strung up by women irate with the side effects!
 But you can see how seriously all this is taken by a lady in the last ad (blow-up) who is so happy she now weighs 200 lbs!:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pets in Antique Photos

Here are some fun pet photos; I'm not completely sure in some of these who is the pet and who is the "owner."  As with almost all photos in this blog, these photos were Lena's (see first few posts in the blog).

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Kids; You paid WHAT?; Auto Elegance

The photos today are a varied lot. First, A couple of really smiling kids. The photographer must have been very entertaining. It usually took a circus and a clown to get my kid to smile for a photograph!
 Next; Lena married Charles in 1904 (see the first few posts in this blog), but first, in 1900,  he bought homestead of 100 acres,  in what is now Napa Valley for $16.00.  The  area must be worth millions now, but I'll bet he had to scrape do get that money together!
 Last but not least, one of Lena's best friends, in her new auto:

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cute Kids and the Latest Fashions

The French laundry list is fascinating. Note that there are several pieces of clothing listed  that we never use: Guimpes for little girls was one I'd never heard of. If you google it you get some fascinating descriptions!
And I'd swear the little boy in the last picture looks like a little man instead, but we know he is a cousin of Lena's son Colon. Hope you enjoy these pictures!  Chris