Photo Op By The Lake

Vintage photo, circa 1950s.

Price:  $4.00       Size:  About 3 and 3/8 x 2″

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!

Gloria LoVasco, Detroit 1940s

Vintage photo, early 1940s.

Price:  $7.00         Size:  About 1 and 1/2 x 2 and 5/8″

One last summery photo before we start moving into autumn…..beautiful Miss Gloria LoVasco (also seen as Lo Vasco and Lovasco) of 3839 French Rd in Detroit. This small photo was probably given to a friend back in the day, estimating early 1940s, but almost seventy years later had been waiting to be rediscovered in a bin at an antique store. The 3839 French Road address, now a vacant residential lot, lies just north, less than two miles, from the Detroit River and Belle Isle, so, that might be the River in the background. (Note the picnic basket on the bottom left. Looks like it was a fun day!)

As for the surname, the 1940 Federal Census for Gloria and her family shows the LoVascos were of Italian descent and then a quick search for the name origin of Vasco indicates a name used for someone from the Basque region (in Northern Spain). It would be interesting to see if the family had a Basque connection going further back.

Sources:  Year: 1940; Census Place: Detroit, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: m-t0627-01849; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 84-286. (Ancestry.com).

Vasco name meaning. https://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=vasco. (accessed 09/29/19).

Our Dear Deer Friend

Vintage photo, circa 1920s – 1940s.

Price:  $5.00           Size:  About 3 and 1/8 x 2 and 3/8″

Outside of a cedar-shingled, hotel, we presume, two women and a deer enjoy a visit while in the background a man and young boy appear to be in the middle of a handshake. I like the light reflecting off of those velvet-y antlers, and the surprise of that hefty tree trunk immediately in front of one of the windows. Good for viewing ants from that room, and which came first, the tree or the building?

Mrs. Minnie Perreault

Old photo, circa 1930s, white border.

Price:  $10.00        Size:  2 and 3/4 x 4 and 1/2″

Continuing with a very short theme of “woman with oar or paddle” 🙂 here’s a photo circa 1930s, and we’re guessing (though not certain) that the woman in the canoe is the “Mrs. Minnie Perreault” as written on the back. She was the wife of Ludger Perreault, and their address given is 479 Ann St., Hartford, CT. The 1930 Federal Census for Hartford shows them at this address, along with their daughter Lillian, age 9, with several lodgers living also in the household. This photo was found in a box of loose photos at the vintage paper fair recently visited in San Francisco.

Source:  Year: 1930; Census Place: Hartford, Hartford, Connecticut; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0039; FHL microfilm: 2339999. (Ancestry.com).

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).

Lake Michigan Fun, 1938

Photo, white border. Dated July 28, 1938.

Price:  $4.00         Size:  3 and 9/16 x 2 and 1/2″

We’re still at Lake Michigan from the last post….This time at one of the beaches at South Haven, Michigan on July 28, 1938, where a young girl in an inner tube and an adult, pose for the snapshot. No names on the back but we just like this old reminder of summers at the beach in days past.

Fishing From Pier In Lake Michigan

Divided back postcard, postmarked August 18, 1911, Chicago, Illinois. Number or series 575.

Price:  $6.00

Imagine today, fishing off a pier attired in a suit coat and bowler hat! Pretty cool. It’s t-shirts and baseball caps now, though. But it’s a nice card from an unknown publisher. And it may have been one of the type where the original image was a photo that appeared in a newspaper, that subsequently got tinted and made into postcards. Funny that you can read some letters on the folded newspaper that is sticking out of the jacket pocket of the young gent on the left. Wonder if that was something the postcard producer did, and I’m thinking yes, because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to tell what it was supposed to be. (This is like “…inside the mind of…circa 1911”  type of thing. But not necessarily an idle thought since we know from prior research that photo images were often altered for postcard use.)

Addressed to:   “Miss Lela Hartman. 141 Hancock St. Newark, Ohio.”

The sender writes:  “Hello Lela – How are you getting along? Having a good time playing with Alice and Tom? How would you like to go fishing in Lake Michigan? Wouldn’t that be fun? Love from ‘Annie.’ “

Lela A. Hartman is only about four years old when she receives this postcard from Annie, who is probably one of her playmates. She is the daughter of Herman H. and Maude W. (Powers) Hartman. All are native to Ohio. Herman on the 1910 Federal Census is a mounter at a stove factory.

Sources:  Year: 1910; Census Place: Newark Ward 3, Licking, Ohio; Roll: T624_1204; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 0088; FHL microfilm: 1375217. (Ancestry.com).

Original data: Indiana, Marriages, 1810-2001. Salt Lake City, Utah: FamilySearch, 2013. (Ancestry.com).

Compliments of Domestic S. M. Co.

Domestic Sewing Machine Company trade card, circa 1880s – 1890s.

Price:  $7.00             Size:  3 and 1/8 x 4 and 7/8″

Here’s a nice restful scene to gaze upon – and one of many trade cards to be found for the Domestic Sewing Machine Company. If you search old newspapers online look for them under the shorter version Domestic S. M. Co. Below, an early ad, from 1872. Love the line directed toward any non-Domestic sewing machine sales reps,  “It don’t pay you to fight the best Machine.” 

For detailed info on Domestic we found a good site for s.m. co.s (Getting into the spirit of the times, lingo-wise 😉  )

Domestic Sewing Machine Company

Sources:  “The ‘Light Running’ Domestic.” Nashville Union and American. (Nashville, TN). November 17, 1872. Sunday, p. 2. (Newspapers.com).

“The Domestic Sewing Machine Co.”. Fiddlebase.com. (Accessed August 3, 2019.)

Woman In Sailor Dress

Old photo, white border, circa 1920s – 1930s.

Price:  $2.00           Size:   2 and 1/2 x 4 and 1/4″

Well, we were looking for military-related items for Memorial Day but have none at the moment. This will be the closest, a young woman in a sailor dress. Was this just fashion or could she have actually been in the navy? We suspect the former, but maybe someone out there can fill us in. Notice the water pump in the background. There is no writing on the back and no indication of where this might have been taken. Just one of millions of loose photos that were a part of someone’s family collection and ended up in a random box. Sad, but it’s nice to rescue these type, and bring them back to life. I like the woman’s gracefulness and her pose in profile. (And isn’t it funny how we tend to romanticize these moments, frozen in time. In reality, what would the woman say about this snapshot? Oh, that was me when……I was just…..)