Friday, February 15, 2013

Sepia Saturday 164: White ink

The white writing on the turtle's back recalled for me my father's habit of writing names and dates directly on the face of photos. The customary practice was to write underneath the photo on the album page leaving the photograph unmarred. Did he do the right thing? In my case, our old photos have long since been removed from albums for the sake of storage space. Had he written only on album pages, the photos might now be unidentifiable.   

Here's an example.... a photo of me with the first pet I can remember, Sandy - the cat whose face was bigger than mine. With augmentation from my pointy witches hat, my head is certainly taller than his but he clearly wins the prizes for widest face and overall beauty. His strawberry blonde coat put my ratty woolen leggings to shame. While I look moth eaten, Sandy, even in my clumsy head lock (meant to be affectionate), displays his ever present dignity and bearing. I loved that cat! And thanks to my Dad, I know it's me and I know it was April 1947. Sandy didn't rate billing in this picture.

I can hear my father chuckling to himself as he labeled this one. Thanks for letting us know it's
a cow!

The white snow posed a challenge for Dad's white ink in this photo. He resorted to a tricky positioning of the occasion and date on the dark background. I like the vertical 1947 pine tree.

The next one is the work of my older sister and likely pre-dates the white pen. She shared my
father's sense of humor in labeling.

The final offering is white inked, June 1946. My beloved stuffed monkey, I guess you could call her my mascot, was at my side. For a short period we were inseparable. The monkey was a bit of a novelty for our neighborhood in Winnipeg. Most of my friends had a Winnie-the-pooh.Why?

The name Winnipeg was given to a female black bear purchased as a cub in Canada by Lt. Harry Colebourn (a veterinarian) of a Canadian cavalry regiment en route to the Western Front during the first World War. The bear became the regiment's mascot and was smuggled into London. Eventually Winnipeg ended up a much loved addition to the London Zoo and was the inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh.

 Here's the longer story from Wikipedia....

The bear was smuggled into Britain as an unofficial regimental mascot. Lt. Colebourn, the regiment’s veterinarian named her after his home city of Winnipeg. Before leaving for France, Colebourn left Winnie at London Zoo. Her eventual destination was to have been the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, but at the end of the War, Colebourn decided to allow Winnie to remain at the London Zoo, where she was much loved for her playfulness and gentleness. Among her fans was A. A. Milne's son Christopher Robin, who consequently changed the name of his own teddy bear from "Edward Bear" to "Winnie the Pooh", providing the inspiration for his father's stories about Winnie-the-Pooh.
Winnie the Pooh
E. H. Shepard illustration from A. A. Milne's book.


  1. Your father was very clever! We're trying to figure out how to rescue my mother's album inscriptions from their disintegrating pages. The Winnie the Pooh story was fascinating. I wonder how many people knew that history.

  2. I'm thinking about the similarities between your post and mine and tony's. You also had an inanimate pet - yours a monkey, mine a duck. And the story about the bear was so similar to the one in Tony's post - both mascot bears ending up in zoos.
    I never knew the story of how Winnie the Pooh got his name. Really interesting.

  3. We're probably all suffering from inanimate pet syndrome and should be on medication.

  4. White ink! You kill me! Had I thought of that as an inspiration, I could have produced a far better entry for this week's Sepia Saturday. But be glad your dad wrote names and dates. He's a hero to those of us family historians trying to figure out our past based on unidentified photos.

  5. Loved that you picked up on the white ink. I have a couple of albums full of white ink descriptions but no photos...very frustrating....

  6. A unique take on this week's prompt. I knew there was much more to the prompt photo than I was noticing! I'm still waiting for someone to pick up on the elegantly crooked pinky fingers.

  7. Oh, this made me laugh. I've been scanning old photos this afternoon and I would have been very annoyed if they'd had writing on the front. Maybe I'll have to be more tolerant :)

  8. Well your father's annotation style certainly makes for a characteristic family photo collection, and even if the images aren't aesthetically perfect, you know who they are, and that's more than can be said for the vast majority of old photos that survive a few decades.

  9. I never noticed the white ink until you mentioned it. Indeed! My son is crazy about Winnie the Pooh.

  10. I have to admit that I quite like the idea of the writing on the photos, somehow it gives them some value-added appeal. Part of your father is in those photographs both in his descriptions and in his handwriting.

  11. Another Regimental Mascot Bear that I never knew about, They're getting like London Transport Omnibuses - wait for hours for a bus and when one turns up it is immediately follow by a bunch.

    Love your 1947 outfit. What do you have on your legs? Looks as if you're going to play Hockey.

    1. Those loosely knit garments were referred to as leggings. They were horrible and stretched when they got wet, then kept falling down. The only good thing about them was that they slowed you down - my mother didn't like me on the run all the time.

  12. I too must revise my thoughts about marked photos. I shall be making use of the Winnie the Pooh origin at our newxt writing group meeting - the things I learn for Sepians.

  13. I like the white ink idea. One of my grandmother's wrote in the margins of photos. The other family left it up to my imagination.

  14. Winnie looks a cute bear! They are pretty warlike these bears!Your Dad's script adds to the photos.'gives them a personal touch & feel.

  15. I loved each and every photo of you and your kitties, monkeys, cows and family. I didn't know that information about Winnie-the-Pooh.

    Have a wonderful weekend,

    Kathy M.

  16. I like the white ink labels. Your cat was HUGE!

  17. What a forward-thinking father! How we all wish we had similar photos I'm sure. Or even a scribble on the back would have helped.

  18. Your father was resourceful, if not subtle.
    Among the pictures on my father's side,
    I found many bearing marks like that,
    a nightmare to photoshop in too many cases...
    Love your cat. My youngest one is turning into a big monster,
    but with a tiny head!!!... Makes it even funnier looking.

    I know the story well about Winnie, since I'm also Canadian.

  19. Beautiful and nostalgic series.

  20. I did not know that historical bit about Winnie the Pooh. Thank you!

    And I actually love that the photos have the writing on them. It makes them very special. Sandy is a terrific looking cat!