Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Saying Goodbye 1934

As I'm depleting my collection of old family photos, I've been haunting antique stores, looking for old photos appropriate for Sepia Saturday. I picked this one up because of the scowling twins. What could be happening to make them so unhappy? The date was 1934 and the place, Florida...I do know this because there was a stack of similar photos in this group. There were too many to buy and all too similar... but they did have a date and place marked on the back side. 

The little girl in front has a reason to scowl. Her mother put her in that awful sundress which exposes her chest in a strange way. She's looking down at herself with the same protruding lower lip scowl as her two brothers behind her. The three of them look so much alike, I'm assuming they're siblings. The three scowlers belong to the woman in the dotted dress - again an assumption based on their similar looks. The tall girl and boy in the back and the boys on the right of row 2 and row 1 are children of the woman with the hat. I'm not sure about the blond boy on the left in row 2. He doesn't look like a scowler or a smiler. Maybe a friend visiting for the day.

It's a bright sunny day and they're standing in front of a barn or a garage. 

Mom looks like she is a permanent resident in Florida because of her tan. The kids are not so tanned, so I'm assuming they are only visiting her. I wonder what the story is? The lady with the hat has that awful warm-looking sweater on and her hat doesn't look Floridian - she must be only passing through......

"Harry, will you please hurry up with the picture," said Irene. "It's sizzling and the sun's in our eyes. Tommy and Jerry are squinting and Marianne's shoulders are burning. The twins have to get to the train."

"Mom, we don't want to go," Tommy whined. "Please don't make us go."

"Tommy, we've been over and over this. You boys are going and that's that! It's the best school in the country and you should be thankful you've gotten in." Harry said impatiently.

A tearful Marianne looked up into her father's eyes. "Daddy, can't they stay here? We'll be good as gold, I promise."

Linda McDonald shifted uncomfortably in the sun. They'd made this special side trip to pick up the twins and escort them back to Maine. Most of the visit was enjoyable but now she wanted to get on her way. She grimaced internally thinking about the pouting twins in her charge for the next two days. Her two teenagers could help to keep them amused, but they didn't sign up to be babysitters. It was difficult for her to understand Irene's moody brood when her children were so relentlessly cheerful. They woke up with smiles and went to bed the same way. All she could hope for was that her own children's good cheer would rub off on the twins during the short journey.

She leaned over to Irene and whispered, "Let's wrap this up so we can get going. The longer we stand around, the worse it's going to be for the boys. Once we get on the train, they'll be fine."

"Say cheese everyone!" Harry instructed, fussing with the lens. "Boys - at least you can look up into the camera for just a minute!!" Harry grumbled to himself looking back at them all with a scowl, choosing to be angry rather than breaking down in front of them all. He remembered his first trip away to school and how miserable he was. Suddenly, he set the camera down and strode over to the group, caught up his two big boys in his arms and kissed them on each cheek. Marianne clung to his pant leg as he knuckle-rubbed the boy's heads and tried to hide his tears.

There would be many more sad goodbyes ahead for Harry and Irene and their children. Little did anyone know what would happen just a few years later when they would be old enough to go to war.
But wait. There's more.  As I put the original photo back in it's envelope, I found the photo below. On the back, it's dated 1935, one year later. This time, there's a specific place - Venice, Florida. The boys might be a tad taller. Mom looks even thinner in the face. In 1935, Venice was hit by a ferocious hurricane, reputedly the strongest ever with winds up to 250 mph. The bedraggled looking palm tree in the background might be a left-over bit from the disaster. The twins are still squinting and frowning but the little girl's wardrobe has improved.


  1. It could have happened like this; possibilities are open. I laughed about the scowl on the kids faces. I have a photo like this with my sister and I, both scowling.

  2. Me too. It's a kind of squint thing.

  3. You stepped right into that photo and into their lives.
    I love it!