Photo Op By The Lake

Vintage photo, circa 1950s.

Price:  $4.00

Maybe Michigan, probably 1950s

An African-American family possibly taken in Michigan, where the photo was found. Were they on their way out to breakfast or church? Was the location a vacation spot for them or taken near home or were they visiting relatives? We’ll probably never know unless by some amazing serendipitous event someone’s browsing and happens to recognize these people. Not unheard of. I’ve been reading Henry Z. “Hank” Jones, Jr.’s Psychic Roots, Serendipity & Intuition in Genealogy.”  If you do family research, for example, chances are excellent that you can recount multiple instances of that feeling of “being led” to a spectacular find. Or, on the opposite side, if you sell or post family photos or other items you may have a story of someone walking into your store and finding their relatives’ “lost” family album, or seeing someone happen upon a postcard that they themselves had written and mailed fifty years ago. In our talks with sellers we’ve heard a surprising number of such accounts. The kind that make your hair stand up on the back of your neck (in a good way!). Here’s one from my family:

Serendipity in Montréal

Maybe fifteen or twenty years ago, I’ve forgotten by now, I was with some family members vacationing in Montréal. Sitting on the beds in the motel we were trying to figure out what to do for the day, looking at brochures. I was drawn to the one on the Pointe-à-Callière Museum and felt we “had to” go there, that it was important to go. In one of the exhibits we saw an artist’s rendition of a mother holding a child. Standing in front of this drawing I had a strong urging to take a photo. Immediately the thought came into my head,  “Why? It’s not like you’re related to her or anything.”  Ahhh, but as you’ve guessed 🙂 she (beautiful Charlotte, specifically Marie Charlotte Gloria dit Roch or DesRoches) turned out to be, not just any relative necessarily, but mine and my siblings’ 6th-great grandmother. (See Collections archéologiques for a photo of the handle of a tool? with Charlotte’s name carved on it. This was one of many artifacts that had been uncovered at the site of what is called “the birthplace of Montréal” and what later became the museum.) Now, at that point I hadn’t yet researched that particular line, and had never even come across her name. It was not till a few years later, while searching my Dufour side online, and “climbing the tree” by finding my direct ancestor Pierre Dufour that there, lo and behold, was his wife, Charlotte Roch. Wait, what??? (Jaw-dropping, falling out of chair.) Not the end of the story, though. For about a week after that, what seemed like every time I got into the car, I heard Chuck Berry’s, “You Never Can Tell” either just playing or as the next offering by the d.j. You know the lyrics, ♪ “It was a teenage wedding and the old folks wished them well. You could see that Pierre did truly love the mademoiselle.” ♪ True, Pierre was not a teenager when they wed, and though Charlotte was, that was not unusual in the least at that time, but it was the true love part that seemed to be the point of what felt like a message bridging “time.” (What is time? 😉 ) Records show that Pierre and Charlotte had eleven kids and, of course, have many many descendants. Notable is the birthplace of their second child. Their first was born in Montréal, and the youngest nine in Detroit. But the baptismal record (all are in French) for their second child, Marie Charlotte Dufour, states she was born in the  “8yattenons.”  (French-Canadian priests sometimes wrote a number to denote a sound or abbreviate a word, for instance “7bre” for septembre, which by the way, can be confusing when reading the record, the digit 7 but the 9th month!) The appellation 8yattenons was used for Fort Ouiatenon. This has been verified in other unrelated records, and the fact that Pierre was a soldier when he and his young family left Montréal adds credibility to daughter Charlotte having been born at or near this fort. Well, this ended up to be a lengthy sidetrack off the subject of this post, that of the vintage photo from the 1950s, yikes! But definitely, if you’d like to share your own stories of the serendipity-amazing luck-small world type we’d love to hear them.

Back to the photo…..

Amazing how every photo transmits so much. An everyday moment maybe, but no less special, as when we look we see the smiles, and the grace and humor, maybe get a sense of the struggles, and yet the joy, in a backdrop, no, make that of a oneness with, a particular place and time, and somehow in total it all washes over us like a blessing…. No identifying info on the back, but maybe we’re looking at a photo of a husband and wife and mother or auntie or older sister of either? All three are very stylish. Love the striped tie on the gentleman. I think of him as Clarence (heehee, he’s likely laughing somewhere now). There’s the flashy belt the older woman wears that’s caught the lens light……there’s the very chic pose of the younger woman, and….her skirt. Check out the pattern on the fabric, a surprise and a delight:  Chickens!

Young Man And Wooden Fishing Boats

Old photo, circa late 1910s – 1920s.

Price:  $5.00         Size:  5 and 1/2 x 3 and 1/4″

No writing on the back of this one:  a young man posing for the camera perched on the bow (well, maybe stern) of a wooden fishing boat, one of several grouped together. He wears a suit and tie and a somewhat unusual striped hat. And, this could have been taken in so many possible places. The shot reminds me of Ireland though, because of the old wooden boats that Mom and I saw one time, having gotten out of the car to take a stroll by the sea. So, naturally, I had to look up coastal photos of Ireland….not with any hope of finding the location (because one would need psychic abilities on this one!) but just because I’m always compelled. Once you get that idea in your head you find yourself typing something in Google no matter what the odds are…..so this image of Skerries in County Dublin, with it’s similar look of sweeping coastline came up right away, by chance having a chance 🙂  to fit the criteria in our image. (If you click to enlarge ours you can see the background better where maybe some mistiness makes the land seem lower than in the “what-are-the-odds-Skerries-photo” or maybe it’s the angle at which it was taken.) Here’s Skerries, Fingal, County Dublin.

And wouldn’t that be hilariously something if it were indeed a match?…..On the other hand, maybe this is Massachusetts….

Source:  “The Top Ten Most Beautiful Seaside Towns in Ireland.” (www.irelandbeforeyoudie.com). Accessed September 7, 2019.

Girl With Boat Oar

Lithograph, printing company unknown. Circa 1870s – 1890s.

Price:  $6.00       Size:  1 and 3/8 x 2 and 3/4″

Nothing printed on the back but one assumes this small card may have been part of a series, maybe of seaside scenes or women in regional dress or bathing attire. And it’s a colorful outfit she wears:  peach skirt, sleeveless top with wide vertical stripes in wine and light blue. And the lighter rose-colored material that encircles her hips, is this part of the skirt or top? Note the emblem of some sort on the skirt, and the peach tam o’shanter hat. Was that a mistake by the printer to have that line going from the hat to behind the girl’s back? And we can’t also help but wonder at the small landmark (like something manmade – a statue perhaps) that appears on the distant horizon; as if this card was fashioned after a specific location, somewhere well-known to the lithographer but that leaves us in the dark today. Lots of questions without answers on this one but maybe that’s part of it’s charm!

Stereograph of Portobello Beach, Scotland

Stereograph, Portobello Beach, Scotland, circa 1860s – 1890s. Possibly 1860s.

Price:  $20.00        Size:  About 6 and 3/4 x 3 and 1/4″ including matting

Bathing machines at Portobello Beach, Scotland

Portobello was a coastal town situated three miles east of Edinburgh’s city center, and today is a suburb of that city.

Here’s two of the same image mounted on cardboard to make a stereograph, also commonly called stereo view, the type used for 3-D viewing (or an approximation of) that was popular “in waves” (per Wikipedia’s entry and no pun intended 😉 ) from around 1870 – 1920.

Various historical notices and letters can be found in The Caledonian Mercury (Edindburgh, Scotland) on the subject of bathing at Portobello. A little background info:  Men had been used to bathing in the nude, both sexes used the bathing machines, women were segregated from the men, and bathing laws were changing in the 1860s. Here’s a few newspaper clippings – below left, appearing July 17, 1851 and on the right, dated June 23, 1862:

Below, another letter to the editor, dated April 4, 1863, and signed “Common Sense.”

Forsyth

Note the surname Forsyth on a few of the conveyances, which we discovered was one of the rental companies at the time the photo was taken. (Could the W. F. in the 1862 letter to the editor have been a Forsyth?) Other machines in the photo show different company names, but they’re too blurred to make out.

Below, a Forsyth’s baths ad clipped from The Caledonian Mercury, August 21, 1861, which leads one to think that our stereograph photo may have been from the 1860s, though more research would need to be done to hopefully find how long the company was in the machine rental business.

High topper gents

Also notable, are two men gazing back at the camera, sporting high top hats. Note that the hat on the right is what we think of as “stovepipe” as in Abe Lincoln, but the other (or maybe too much imagination in play here) looks like it might be of the variety that was more rounded on the sides and top. The term “chimney pot” was also used, but it seems both nicknames have come to be used interchangeably, and understandably so, because one can find photos of chimney pots that have either straight, convex or concave sides. But we’ll stop ourselves here from going off on a hat tangent, (a whole other realm….hat history, hats and public opinion, hats and politics, how fashion influenced politics, etc.)

Sources:  Stereoscope. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stereoscope (accessed August 31, 2019).

Bathing machine. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathing_machine (accessed August 31, 2019).

“Portobello – The Bathing Machines” The Caledonian Mercury, July 17, 1851. Thursday, p. 2. (Newspapers.com).

“Letter to the Editor” The Caledonian Mercury, June 24, 1862. Tuesday, p. 2. (Newspapers.com).

“Bathing at Portobello” The Caledonian Mercury, April 6, 1863. Monday, p. 2. (Newspapers.com).

“Baths” The Caledonian Mercury, August 21, 1861. Wednesday, p. 2. (Newspapers.com).

Top hat. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Top_hat (accessed August 31, 2019).

An Easter Of Sunshine

Divided back, lightly embossed, unused postcard. Made in the U.S.A. Series or number 556. Circa 1919 – 1920.

Price:  $8.00

From a bygone (but not forgotten) era……a young couple all decked out in their Easter Sunday finery stroll along a bright cobblestone path. In the distance is perhaps a church. Note how the buildings are elongated. We’ve seen this style before in May Your Christmas Be Merry, but the artist or artists are unknown. The stamp box for this postcard is printed as “Postage NOW one cent” and is the key to the card’s approximate date. The price for mailing a postcard in the U.S. went from 2¢ back to 1¢ as of July 1, 1919. It was changed to 2¢ again in 1925 and returned to 1¢ in 1928, so there is the possibility that this card could be from 1928 but we’re guessing the earlier change date applies. For the USPS list of changes for postcard stamp rates see Rates for Stamped Cards and Postcards. 

But, in any case…..

A Glad Easter To You

“An Easter of sunshine

Of skies that are blue

And and Easter of Gladness

I’m wishing for you.”

Mrs. Alvidsen At 11,660 Feet

Real Photo Postcard, circa 1900 – 1910

Price:  $15.00         Size:  3 and 3/16 x 5 and 3/8″

Somewhere on the planet, at 11,660 feet…..

The location for this one is a mystery. The writing on the back is  “Mrs. Avildsen at [?] 11660 feet El.”  Looks to me like that word there starts with a “C.” After some research, the best possibility found is that of Monte Cervino, aka the Matterhorn, so maybe from the Italian side of the mountain at 11,600 feet which is about 3,535 meters. That’s an ice field behind our smiling subject. Is she holding flowers?

Postcard publisher unknown, so far

The postcard publisher or printer is another mystery. I’m not seeing this particular style of Real Photo Postcard back on any other site or in Walter Corson’s Publisher’s Trademarks Identified. Also, the size is a little smaller that the average RPPC (and the bottom doesn’t seem to have been cropped). If the card was produced in the U.S. the postal regulations didn’t allow for the divided back until December 1907, though it could still be earlier if printed from another country.

Climbing the Alps in the Victorian Era

Eleven hundred plus feet is quite high, higher than the highest city in the U.S., which is that of Leadville, Colorado (elevation 10,152 feet or 3,094 meters, nicknames The Two-Mile-High City and Cloud City). And, if this was Mount Cervino, there would not have been an inn at that elevation. So, it’s not as if our lady mountaineer walked out of her hotel and up a slope and posed for the picture. Newspaper articles are numerous on early climbing, and mention employing guides and going part way by pack-mules or horses. In searching Newspapers.com for Mount Cervino, and getting a little side-tracked from women climbers, I came across a wonderful article about a guy, in need of guide, as on that particular day there was a shortage, and so the man hired someone who turned out to be a smuggler. (Imagine the endless possibilities of caching goods in the mountains). Here are four excerpts from “A Strange Guide,” clipped from The Ogden Standard (Ogden, UT) and translated from Italian.  (Not sure where Fiery was but here’s a link for Valtournenche, Italy.)

The smuggler/guide was saying he can’t afford to lose time. He asks the “guide-ee” for help searching for the missing relative, and it’s gladly given. I’m sorry to say that the story does not have a happy ending. The missing relative had stopped to rest in the heavy fog and “fallen asleep” in the cold never to awaken. The two searchers discovered that the man’s body had just been brought in that evening when they got back to the inn at Fiery. And we don’t usually put up the sad stuff here on LCG, but the article was touching – the way that the “guide-ee” changes his first negative impression of the guide, becoming, one would think, forever bonded with him through the shared experience of searching for that lost loved one.

Below, from another beautifully written account, this one from 1880, three excerpts clipped from The Standard (London, England) entitled, “Gossip From The Alps (From A Climbing Correspondent.)”  By coincidence, both articles are from newspapers called the Standard, one in Utah and the other London, UK. And, it always floors me, hitting upon a hitherto unknown subject, like for me the history of mountaineering, that very first glimpse into what would be an enormous vista of knowledge, that others have already been “living in”, so to speak, like in a living landscape of knowledge…..feels like coming to a party way late and getting a smidgen of a glimpse of everything you’ve been missing.

Gossip from the Alps, September 1880

And on the subject of women climbers!

Well, that’s enough historical articles for now, as this post has really gotten long, though of course, the Alvidsen name was searched for but nothing came up in newspapers, so we’ll just include links to a couple of excellent web articles on the history of women in mountaineering, for some great photos and insight. Just imagine climbing in a long skirt like the one Mrs. Alvildsen is wearing, and then that hat, at eleven and a half thousand feet, seemingly so incongruous from our 2019 vantage point. (Though a hat with a wide brim would have been a very good thing in the high altitude sun.) And how about the rest of what the early women climbers were up against, not just the clothing challenge, but in general, going against (or around) society’s code, to pursue their passion…..I especially love the part about Lucy Walker ditching her petticoat and stashing it behind a rock!

One of the First Female Alpinists Was A Victorian Lady

For the Lady Mountaineer

Sources:  Leadville, Colorado. n.d. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leadville,_Colorado (accessed April 7, 2019).

Valtournenche. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valtournenche (accessed April 7, 2019).

“A Strange Guide.”  The Ogden Standard (Ogden, UT). April 2, 1892. Saturday, p. 3. Translated by Antonio Meli from the Italian by G. Giacosa for Boston Transcript. (Newspapers.com).

“Gossip From The Alps (From A Climbing Correspondent.)” The Standard (London, England). September 24, 1880. Friday, p. 2. (Newspapers.com).

Siber, Kate. “One of the First Female Alpinists Was A Victorian Lady.” outsideonline.com. July 31, 2018. (accessed April 7, 2019).

“For the Lady Mountaineer.” americanalpineclub.org. March 1, 2018. (accessed April 7, 2019).

Feat Of The 20th Century

Divided back, used Real Photo Postcard. Velox stamp box. 1909.

Price:  $12.00

A young gentleman in a suit jacket, button down sweater and derby hat displays his sense of humor. The letters “L” and “S” on the soles of his shoes are maybe his initials, and the 09 is likely for the year 1909. And it’s the way the shot was taken that makes his shoes appear so large. This would be a great card to include in a book on humor in postcards or something similar, especially because it was “homemade” so to speak. That is, an original idea, produced with instructions for the printing company. The blacked-out part was probably to cover the rest of the photo, which whatever it showed, must have detracted from the overall effect; if you click to enlarge you can see a little bit of the brown background at the bottom of the heavy black stripe in a couple of places.

U. S. Army Man, WWII

Photo, white border, WWII.

Price:  $5.00           Size:  About 5 x 3 and 1/4″

No i.d. on the back for this U. S. army man during WWII, who was enjoying a bottle of soda pop when he posed for the picture. The snapshot was found loose in a bin full of others, at an antique mall. And we’re assuming he was army due to the stamp on the back of the photo which shows:   “Passed for publication, U. S. Army press censor 62801, U. S. E. C.”  Maybe one of our readers can give us more information. Do the initials U. S. E. C. stand for United States East Coast and is the number 62801 the censor’s i.d. number?

Source:  “What does USEC stand for?” https://www.acronymfinder.com/United-States-East-Coast-(USEC).html. (accessed November 12, 2018).

U. S. Navy Man And Bride

Photo, white border. Circa 1940s – 1950s.

Price:  $3.00        Size:  2 and 13/16 x 1 and 15/16″

A beautiful couple, no i.d. on the back, posing on their wedding day in front of an automobile, which we can’t see too much of. The era is WWII or possibly the 1950s.

Couple During WWI

Photo, white border. Circa 1914 – 1918.

Price:  $2.00          Size:  3 and 3/16 x 4 and 4/16″

For Veteran’s Day…..though a day late

Even though this snapshot is very blurry, I still like it. There’s no identifying info on the back for this handsome couple. (Love the woman’s skirt – row upon row of  ruffles). But what comes to mind? The word precarious, for love during wartime. In this case the era was The Great War, as it was then called. But, in contradiction to that first thought, the word enduring. Love is forever.