Saturday, August 13, 2011

Instant Ancestors


I'm sure it will come to no great shock to you, that I'm fascinated with photos. No, not (just) my photos, but photos from long ago. Long, LONG before I got serious about photography, I was collecting antique baby photos of other peoples children - probably long since grown old and gone.

Mostly, I was attracted to unusual kids, or kids with toys, photos that told a lot about the person in the picture etc. Eventually, I stopped. I had a good sized collection, and was not displaying it. It was getting out of hand. (btw, where did I put those photos??)

However, every once in a while a photo will catch my eye and I can't stop myself from taking home someone else's ancestors. The photo above really caught my attention. Normally you don't see a situation like this in an older photo. Normally a photo is a fairly serious event, but they were friends, all together, laughing and having fun.

I paid a grand total of $1.00 and brought the photo home. To be honest, it got stuck in with some things for resale and I kind of forgot about it until I opened a box recently and found it again.

I've been wanting to change my tags over to something different, and decided I'd scan some of my antique photos as tent signs and hang tags for my items. Plus it would be cheaper than buying tags! I pulled out some of my favorites - including this one - to put on the scanner.

As it sat on my desk the back finally struck my curiosity. Normally the handwriting is really hard to read from back then. Why did they write so small, and so scripty?
Tangent: Did you know that some schools are no longer teach cursive? No. Really. OK, so kids don't learn to write it.... don't you think they should be able to read it?

I felt a little like one of those kids. Slowly making out what was on the back of the photo, which was actually a postcard. 2 cents to mail it on February 6, of 1919.


"Dear Fern:
I trust you recall the day this was taken. - Was pleased to note by Hamburg paper your school and pupils had won such a generous number of prizes. - After five weeks back in civil life I am gradually becoming accustomed to the change and sort of getting back to earth, although it was rather irksome for a time. - Lots of the boys are coming back now and a goodly number from here were wounded in action. - Would be glad to hear from you.
Elmer A. Webb"

In Fern's handwriting you see the names of the other people in the photo:
Mrytle Larson
Phoebe Mitchell
George Dean
Lettie Brown
Girl from Thurman
Fern Wagner

If you hold the photo, just right to the light, you can see that Fern's photo has been circled. (far right). I suspect that Elmer, fresh home from WWI, had a bit of a crush on Fern. He circled her photo. He complimented her. He tugged on her heartstrings over the war. He asked to hear from her again.

And just like I sometimes do with people now... when I see some girl who's obviously got a crush on some boy - sometimes I wait until she leaves and I tell the guy. "you know, she's got a huge crush on you. You should ask her to dance."

Sometimes it works.

So I say, Dear Fern, please write Elmer back. He kind of put feelers out putting his heart on his sleeve. (he's a boy, they don't do it very well).

PS. Fern is a lovely name. If I were of baby making age, and had this insane desire to create (demon spawn) with the lovely hubs, I'd consider Fern for a girly name. Sadly, it will probably only be a cat's name.

1 comment:

Mary Ann said...

I love old photos too, of farms and houses, and people's pets... if you ever post any for sale on your blog, let us know! Loved this photo!

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